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‘Go Boris go’: How Italian politicians reacted to UK election result

Some of Italy's politicians hoped the Conservative win in the UK might set an example at home.

'Go Boris go': How Italian politicians reacted to UK election result
The UK election result was closely watched in Italy. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP

One of the first to congratulate Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson was Matteo Salvini, leader of the League party and Italy's right-wing opposition.

“Go Boris go! Left defeated in Great Britain too,” he tweeted with a smiley emoji late on Thursday.

Earlier in the day he'd sent his regards to Johnson and Brits in general, remarking: “Lucky them, they're voting today.”

Salvini is crossing his fingers for another election in Italy since pulling his party out of a coalition government in August.

ANALYSIS: Here's why Italy's Matteo Salvini is down, but not out

Meanwhile Matteo Renzi, former prime minister and now head of the centrist Italia Viva party, claimed that the UK left had played into the hands of their opponents.

“The radical and extreme left is the best ally of the right,” he tweeted. “You can continue to insult Blair and keep supporting Corbyn but this way in the end the radical right wins. And in the end Brexit will also be the fault of this Labour Party.”

Renzi, who is often compared to Tony Blair – not least by himself – may have been warning his former party, the centre-left Democratic Party or PD, not to veer any further to the left if it hopes to defeat the likes of right-wing populist Salvini.

The PD currently governs Italy in a volatile coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), an arrangement that prompted Renzi to quit the PD and set up his own party.

READ ALSO: Italy's ex-PM Matteo Renzi quits Democratic Party to form new movement

Neither the head of the PD, Nicola Zingaretti, nor the leader of the M5S, Luigi Di Maio, had commented on the UK election by Friday morning. 

But opposition leader Giorgia Meloni, head of the far-right Brothers of Italy and one of Salvini's allies, joined in the congratulations on Johnson's “great victory”.

“Once again coherence pays off, now the will of the British people will finally be respect,” she tweeted. “It's our duty to defend Italian interests in a new relationship of cooperation with the UK.” 

An estimated 700,000 Italian nationals live in the UK, making Brexit – which now looks set to proceed early next year – a pressing concern in Italy too.

Asked about the consequences of the British vote for Italians, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said his government was working with those affected “constantly”. 

“We had already prepared to offer [Italians in the UK] full protection in the event of a 'no deal', and now an orderly Brexit looks likely,” Conte commented on Friday.

REMINDER: What the Brexit deal means for Brits in Italy

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COST OF LIVING

Fuel tax cut and help with energy bills: Italy approves inflation aid package

Italy on Thursday night approved new measures worth around 17 billion euros ($17.4 billion) to help families and businesses manage the surging cost of fuel and essentials.

Fuel tax cut and help with energy bills: Italy approves inflation aid package

As expected, the final version of the ‘aiuti-bis‘ decree provides another extension to the existing 30-cents-per-litre cut to fuel duty, more help with energy bills, and a tax cut for workers earning under 35,000 euros a year.

The package also includes further funding for mental health treatment: there’s another 15 million euros for the recently-introduced ‘psychologist bonus’ on top of the 10 million previously allocated.

READ ALSO: What is Italy doing to cut the rising cost of living?

There are also measures to help agricultural firms deal with this year’s severe drought.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi described the new package as an intervention “of incredible proportions”, which corresponds to “a little over 2 points of national GDP”.

However, he said, no changes were made to the national budget to pave the way for the new measures.

The measures will be funded with 14.3 billion euros in higher-than-expected tax revenues this year, and the deployment of funds that have not yet been spent, Economy and Finance Minister Daniele Franco said.

Italy has already budgeted some 35 billion euros since January to soften the impact of rising fuel costs.

The decree is one of the last major acts by outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi before an early general election next month.

Elections are set for September 25th but the former European Central Bank chief is staying on in a caretaker role until a new government is formed.

Draghi said the Italian economy was performing better than expected, citing the International Monetary Fund’s estimate of three percent for 2022.

“They say that in 2022, we will grow more than Germany, than France, than the average of the eurozone, more than the United States,” he told a press conference.

But he noted the many problems facing Italy, “from the high cost of living, to inflation, the rise in energy prices and other materials, to supply difficulties, widespread insecurity and, of course political insecurity”.

Inflation hit 8 percent in Italy in June – the most severe spike the country has experienced since 1976.

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