TV show mocks Italian MPs' English

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One MP confused the country "Syria" with “homophobia” while another began discussing condoms in Africa when he was asked about food additives. Screengrab: Mediaset
14:32 CEST+02:00
An Italian TV comedy show has had that last laugh over the poor level of English of MPs in a lighthearted bid to highlight public spending - reported to be more than €400,000 - on their language lessons.

A reporter from the programme, called 'Le Iene' (The Hyenas) - aired on Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset network - doorstopped MPs from various parties outside the lower house of parliament in Rome.

They looked bewildered and stammered when he questioned them in English without any prior warning or explanation.

When one MP was asked about a solution for the war in Syria, he confused the country’s name with “homophobia” while another began discussing condoms in Africa when he was asked about food additives.

Federico Fauttilli, an MP from the Civic Choice alliance, was asked what was required to kick start the Italian economy and only said “no” before putting his hand over the camera.

Albero Zolezzi, who represents Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement in the lower house, was asked what was needed to stop factory closures and said: “The first fact, in my opinion, is participation of many people…”

Italian media has reported that more than €400,000 has been allocated for Italian MPs to study English, French, Spanish and other languages.

Marco Donati, a young MP from the centre-left Democratic Party, said ”I don’t.. sorry I can’t speak...” when asked about wasted government spending.

He drew plenty of laughter when asked who paid for his English lessons.

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“Pay me,” he said to the interviewer. “It’s necessary I pay me” as he tried to explain he paid for his own English lessons.

Last month, data from the Eurostat statistics agency showed that Italians, Germans and the French are the most insecure in Europe about their levels of English, with Swedes among the most confident.

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