Italian populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has blocked a migrant deal with Germany and France that could see tens of thousands of migrants sent to Italy as his party’s popularity soars across the country.
The populist League leader is said to have put the migrant deal on hold as some estimate that Italy may be forced to take as many as 40,000 migrants from Germany and a further 20,000 from France under the proposed agreement, Il Giornale reports.
Salvini has said that he will only accept a deal in which Italy sends as many migrants as it takes from other countries, but German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is pushing for the current proposal. Rumours have even circulated that Germany has started to charter flights to Rome and although the German interior ministry denied the rumours, Salvini threatened to close Italian airports to any such flights.
German Interior Ministry spokesman Sören Schmidt claimed that part of the problem was that the Italians were looking to include migrants in the deal who had been rescued in the Mediterranean and not just those who had come across the border from Italy to Germany or France.
Salvini to ‘Close Airports’ if EU or Germany Try to Fly Illegal Migrants to Italy https://t.co/9xXiQAWMsk
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 7, 2018
Since coming to power earlier this year, Salvini has been tough on clamping down on illegal migration and has not only closed Italian ports to migrant rescue NGOs but also recently released a decree that would end the granting of residency permits to failed asylum seekers on humanitarian grounds.
While Germany allows many failed asylum seekers to live in “tolerated” status within the country, they are only willing to accept Syrians, Afghans, and Eritreans from Italy, which amounts to around 5,000 migrants — far fewer than the 40,000 they want to send back to Italy.
Salvini’s anti-mass migration policies have greatly boosted his popularity and that of his party across Italy. New polls show the League with as much as 48 percent of the support in the country’s North Eastern region and 22 percent in the south where the party has found increasing levels of support since renouncing their northern separatist past.