Italy is getting its own Brexit-type party led by a staunch Eurosceptic senator, a former journalist and ex-member of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement who recently met with Nigel Farage for inspiration.
While its name is yet to be revealed, the party, led by Senator Gianluigi Paragone, already has a clear goal – to lead Italy, a founding member of the 27-member bloc, out of the European Union.
Inspired by the UK’s vote to exit the EU, the 48-year-old senator traveled to London on Monday to meet with Brexit architect Nigel Farage. After the meeting, Paragone said his country “can no longer be blackmailed by countries that offend the great prestige of Italy.”
Speaking to the media, Paragone said the only way for Italy to tackle the economic crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic is to do so as a “really sovereign state,” such as Britain.
The Eurosceptic politician is riding a wave of disappointment with the bloc and its handling of recent crises. Trust in the EU in Italy has plummeted by 20 points since 2010, according to the Brussels-based Wilfried Martens Centre for European Studies. In 2019, Italians were among the most pessimistic European nations regarding EU membership, with only 42 percent believing it to be beneficial to the country – 26 points below the ‘Eurobarometer’ average.
Despite growing anti-EU sentiment, Italy’s political parties have been hesitant to throw their weight behind the Eurosceptics, especially at a time when the Covid-stricken nation – one of the worst-affected in Europe – urgently needs the bloc’s support. On Tuesday, EU member states agreed on a coronavirus recovery package which would allocate €209 billion ($239 billion) to Italy – a whopping 28 percent of the entire package. This came as a result of uneasy marathon talks and compromises – and with the fight against the virus far from over and no proven vaccine available, the deal was direly needed to dampen Eurosceptic moods.
However, Paragone remains steadfast. “The others want to change Europe, we want to quit,” the ‘Italexit’ leader said after the deal was struck.
If you like this story, share it with a friend!