The leader of Italy's Northern League, Matteo Salvini, denied that he had a visit planned to Liverpool after Steve Rotheram, the mayor of that city, accused him of being a fascist and said he is not welcome inside its boundaries.
“My presence in Liverpool was never scheduled,” Salvini claimed to reporters on Thursday. “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".
Salvini said that “Liverpool is a beautiful city” and added that he wanted to visit, before inviting Rotheram to visit Milan “to eat osso buco or polenta”.
“That way we’ll show him that Milan hasn’t been invaded by fascists. I’m sorry that someone has made a judgment without knowing the facts", Salvini offered.
Rotheram said Salvini’s “division and hate” is not welcome in Liverpool following an announcement that Lega nel Mondo, a network established by the League in 2018, would host an event in March of this year.
“The only audience he’ll find here is one that won’t be shy in telling him what they think of fascists like him", Rotheram said .
'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.'https://t.co/8Eu5NATXdM— Steve Rotheram (@MetroMayorSteve) February 12, 2020
The Italian Senate has formally given the go-ahead to a criminal case against Salvini, who is accused of kidnapping when in 2019 he prevented 131 asylum-seekers from leaving the Gregoretti coastguard ship, docked in Italy.
“I did my duty,” Salvini said on Thursday.
“I think it’s bizarre that they’re sending me to trial. I’m not happy about it as I’m going to be spending my days reading thousands of legal documents when I’ve got much better things to be doing, like winning elections".
Salvini served as deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior from 1 June 2018 to 5 September 2019, when the coalition between his party and the centre-left populist Five Star Movement (MFS) fell apart, seeing a new governing coalition involving the Democratic Party formed.