Italy’s new Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has made a shock intervention in the Brexit negotiations, warning the British that there is “no good faith” on the EU’s side.
The political firebrand, who leads one half of Italy’s new populist coalition government, warned Theresa May that “There is no objectivity or good faith from the European side” of the negotiations, and that repeatedly giving in to EU demands would not improve matters.
“My experience in the European Parliament tells me you either impose yourself or they swindle you,” he advised.
The Remain-supporting Prime Minister has already agreed to pay out at least £39 billion in exit fees to the EU and offered to submit to a so-called ‘common rulebook’ based on EU law and effectively adjudicated by the EU court, causing her Brexit Secretary and Foreign Secretary to resign in protest — but Brussels is still demanding more, without having appeared to make any concessions of its own.
A long-time eurosceptic himself, Salvini told The Sunday Times he wanted to see Brexit succeed: “I remember the referendum… as an example of participation and freedom; I hope it can be an opportunity for the British,” he said.
He also hopes for a positive outcome in the negotiations, telling the newspaper he wants to see them “end well for the UK to serve as an example of the people coming out on top of the EU.”
Other insiders have suggested Brussels wants them to end badly to set the opposite example, even if that means damaging its members-states’ national economies.
Salvini seemed to be aware of this possibility, however, and so encouraged the British to get tough and walk away from the eurocrats if they will not negotiate constructively, “because on some principles there is no need to be flexible and you should not go backwards.”
The European Union runs a substantial trade surplus with the United Kingdom, and despite multiple scare stories suggesting the country will virtually collapse if it is not in the bloc, the arithmetic suggests a ‘No Deal’ scenario would leave Brussels the biggest loser.