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League and M5S leaders inch closer to deal on a government they may not be part of

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League and M5S leaders inch closer to deal on a government they may not be part of
League leader Matteo Salvini pictured on Monday. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
15:11 CEST+02:00
The Five Star Movement and League parties were continuing to work on a government deal on Wednesday afternoon, with the leader of the M5S saying he and his League counterpart were prepared not to be part of the government if needed.

Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that "Salvini and I are ready to remain outside" a potential government team, if this was necessary to make the deal work. The leaders have been in talks on a coalition agreement in order to bring an end to over two months of political deadlock following inconclusive elections.

For his part, Salvini said being PM would be an "honour" but added "if necessary I will step to the side".

The League leader also said the two had made "big steps forward" and that he hoped the agreement would be finalized in order to "move on to the names" for the top positions by the end of the day.

He made the comments in a 16-minute live video broadcast on Facebook, in which he also hit back at criticism of the deal in Europe and in the media. 

"We see the Financial Times write 'Rome opens its gates to the modern barbarians'," he said, referring to an FT headline from Monday. "Better to be a barbarian than a slave that sells Italy's dignity, future, businesses and even its borders."

The "Contract for the Government of Change" being drafted by the League and Five Star was described as a "bomb" to the political order by Di Maio on Tuesday.

A draft of the deal was published on Huffington Post Italia on Tuesday, including measures such as asking the European Central Bank to forgive €250 billion of Italian debt. The leaders said it was an "outdated" version that had since been modified (the draft was dated May 14th, 2018 with a time stamp of 9.30 am, since when the party leaders have met several times).

READ MORE: Leak reveals League and Five Star Movement's radical plans for Italy

Di Maio shrugged off such warnings as the protests of "Eurocrats that nobody elected", while on Wednesday Salvini, attacked EU commissioner Dimitris Avramopolous' request that Italy's new government not change its policy on migration.

"We heard some unelected commissioner say that Italy has to continue to do what it's always done, or rather -- pull its trousers down," he said.

Salvini said that the contract -- and an interior minister from the League -- would make sure that "only people with a right to enter Italy" would do so. He said that cuts to the five billion euro budget for asylum infrastructure would be used to pay for expulsions of "thousands of criminals".

"A minister from the League who would work on security and border control would be a guarantor that whoever comes to Italy has the right to do so," he said.

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