‘Reform or Crumble’ – Populist Leader Says Italian Elections Are ‘Last Chance’ Before Italy Follows UK Out of EU ‘Cage’

Lega Nord far right party leader Matteo Salvini address supporters during a campaign rally on Piazza Duomo in Milan on February 24, 2018 a week ahead of the Italy's general election.

Populist leader Matteo Salvini has warned that Italy could leave the European Union (EU) after Britain if Brussels continues to refuse to listen to the public’s concerns.

As Italians went to the polls on Sunday for national elections, the Lega party leader declared his support “on principle” for direct democracy, telling the British media that the Brexit referendum serves as an example for Italy to follow.

“The British case is even more emblematic because it represents the first and only time so far where European citizens have had the opportunity to have a say about their membership of the European Union,” he said.

“Why on earth would free people remain prisoners in a cage of absurd laws and regulation, with rigid constraints that humiliate the true needs of the people and their country?” Salvini asked, saying he was “not surprised” the British public voted to leave the bloc.

“With the Italian vote, the EU will have its last chance to reform itself. Otherwise, Brexit will be nothing else than the start of an inevitable crumbling process, with all the consequences and dangers this comes with.”

The eurosceptic MEP,could emerge from Italy’s election as Prime Minister, with the right-leaning coalition of which Lega is a part set to get the most votes.

Having previously run on a platform of independence for northern Italy, Salvini’s party has in recent years responded to voter anger across the country over the huge influx of migrants from the third world, that has so far been higher this year than the levels seen at the same time in 2017.

Mass migration has been pushed to the centre of the Italian election debate in recent months after a series of high-profile crimes including the brutal murder of Pamela Mastropiestro, for which three Nigerian migrants have been arrested.

The 18-year-old’s dismembered corpse, missing body parts including her heart and genitals, was found in two suitcases earlier this year.

Last month, the leading criminologist, surgeon and psychologist Alessandro Meluzzi suggested Nigerian mafia involvement in the crime, noting it is “routine” for the ruthless African gang “to cut victims into pieces and, in some cases, to eat parts of their bodies”.

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