Far-left groups have threatened protests at two venues in the UK after reports that populist Italian senator and League leader Matteo Salvini will be giving speeches.
The three events, scheduled to take place in March in London, Brighton, and Liverpool, are being organised by the group Lega nel Mundo which also announced another event in Dublin, Ireland, this week on their website.
In Liverpool, the reaction to the announcement has drawn ire from far-left extremists, according to the Liverpool Echo, which quoted one social media user as saying: “We’ve run the fascists out of Liverpool a bunch of times, looks like this will be another one to add to the list.”
“Can’t see this ending well. Fascist/far-right rallies have all, without exception, been chased out of town,” another reportedly said.
Poll: Matteo Salvini Is the Most Trusted Politician in Italy https://t.co/JyHHIzdz6i
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 22, 2019
Steve Rotheram, the mayor of the Liverpool city region, also labelled Salvini a fascist, saying: “Should he go ahead with his visit, I’m sure the only audience he’ll find here is one that won’t be shy in telling him what they think of fascists like him.”
“He should learn the lessons that his far-right friends have on their past visits to our region: that bigotry is anathema, and hatred and intolerance will never be welcomed here,” he added.
But a statement from Matteo Salvini Thursday stated he never intended to visit Liverpool, and that the events were merely ways for his expat supporters to socialise while abroad. British newspaper The Guardian reports his comments when he said: “My presence in Liverpool was never scheduled.”
The League leader continued: “What is happening there is not a rally, but a dinner among supporters of the League in Liverpool – they are going to eat fish and chips.”
“It’s the same kind of thing our supporters have done in Brazil, Switzerland, Belgium or Canada, and it’s never happened before that a mayor has intervened in a dinner among free citizens who are neither subversives or crazies.”
One of the far-left extremist groups opposed to the events is Unite Against Fascism (UAF), a group embroiled in past scandals, including when its former vice-chairman Azad Ali was revealed to have showered support on al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and advocated for killing British troops in Iraq.
UAF head Weyman Bennett, who was previously arrested in 2010 on suspicion of conspiracy to commit violent disorder, said the group would be protesting Salvini.
“He’s someone that should be resisted both for his misogyny and his racism, spreading division and hate across the whole of Europe. He stands in the tradition of Mussolini,” Bennett said.
Pollster: Salvini Trial Could Boost His Polling Numbers https://t.co/Ex9s1QaKBl
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 23, 2020
Salvini, meanwhile, faces potential trial in Italy over a migrant case in which he refused to allow migrants picked up by an Italian coastguard vessel to come ashore. The prosecution alledges because he closed the borders to the individuals, they were in effect kidnapped by the then Italian interior minister.
Despite the looming trial, at least one pollster has said that the case could serve to boost Salvini’s already high polling numbers among the Italian public, which unlike the British far-left, trust the populist leader more than any other politician.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com
This story was updated on 14/02/20 to reflect Matteo Salvini’s comments on the Liverpool event