Salvini: Italy on Britain’s Side in Brexit Negotiations, EU has Anti-Democratic Habits, Desire to Punish


Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, has announced that Italy is on the British people’s side in the Brexit negotiations, criticising the EU’s anti-democratic habits and desire to punish, in a BBC HARDtalk interview with Stephen Sackur.

“Now, there’s been a great effort led by Michel Barnier, who’s the chief [European] Commission negotiator on Brexit, to keep and maintain European unity, and yet you have said recently that you think — and I’m using your words — is trying to swindle the UK out of the Brexit that it voted for. What did you mean by that?” demanded the BBC anchor, appearing to play the bloc’s part.

“On more than one occasion in the past — don’t forget the European Constitution when citizens voted against the wishes of Brussels and they made citizens vote again until they got what they wanted — there is typically an attempt on the part of Brussels to punish,” explained the populist firebrand, who leads one half of Italy’s new coalition government.

“They are not negotiating, they want to punish a government and a people that voted against their expectations.  If you sit at a negotiating table, you have to start with some political goodwill. If you start out with the idea of punishing or attacking, you’re not going to be a good negotiator,” Salvini added.

“So, I guess the specific question for you is, will Italy, the Italian government, encourage France and Germany to be more flexible, and to make real concessions to the UK?” pressed Sackur.

“Yes. I think the people’s mandate must be followed,” the Italian replied simply.

“We have to foster good relations and nobody should be punished. The Italian government is on the side of the British government, in our mutual interest.”

While it is not much mentioned in the Remain-leaning broadcast media or left-liberal press, which tends to present the European Union as a strong and united front, Italy is not the only country which is keen to see the Brexit vote respected and a proper free trade agreement arranged.

Hungarian foreign minister Péter Szijjártó has stressed that a ‘No Deal’ Brexit would be a “nightmare scenario” for the EU, with European countries losing ground in the British market as London strikes new global trade deals.

Jarosław Kaczyński, who leads Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party, has also indicated that there are two camps fighting it out within the European Union; some wishing to makes things “as tough as possible”  for Britain, others wishing to see a very close partnership — with Poland belonging to the latter category.

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