Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the anti-immigration League party, has been quick to respond to a scathing remark from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who claimed she wouldn’t let his party work with her in the European Parliament.
The remarks come as European elections are just around the corner.
“We don’t want to stand with people who have ruined Europe for all these years,” Salvini quipped to Merkel’s dismissal of his anti-immigrant League party, according to media reports.
Merkel’s harsh words, however, failed to hit too close to home, as Italy’s new anti-immigrant leader never sought to forge an alliance with the German chancellor.
Instead, Salvini invited Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a politician vehemently opposed to Merkel’s open-border policy, to be part of the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), his right-wing group in the European Parliament.
“We don’t want anything to do with Merkel and Macron, who have destroyed this European Union. We want to save Europe from the bureaucrats, the bankers and the financiers that have ruined it all these years,” Salvini was reported as saying.
Salvini is holding a major rally in Milan Saturday ahead of the approaching EU elections, slated for May 23-26.
The slogan of the rally, which will be attended by the representatives of 11 right-wing European parties, is "Italy first! Toward a Common Sense Europe."
Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister is seeking to build a pan-European bloc of populists ahead of the elections to the European Parliament.
According to the projection of the European edition of Politico portal, the EAPN may get 72 seats in the upcoming EU elections.
If the projection proves correct, the EAPN will become the fourth-largest group in the new parliament, ahead of the European Conservatives and Reformists, which is projected to win 61 seats, nine less than it got five years ago.
Euroskeptics currently control 256 of the 751 seats in the European Parliament, Politico's analysts said.
Apart from Lega, Salvini's alliance also includes Alternative for Germany, The Finns Party, the Danish People's Party, the French National Rally party, Austria's Freedom Party and the Conservative People's Party of Estonia.