The EU is not conducting Brexit talks with the U.K. in “good faith,” Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said.
Salvini has spoken approvingly about Brexit in the past, but his criticism of Brussels marks an explicit break with the bloc’s united front over the negotiations.
“I hope the negotiations end well for the U.K. to serve as an example of the people coming out on top of the EU,” he said in an interview with The Sunday Times published Sunday.
Salvini welcomed the chance of a one-to-one meeting with May, just as she is seeking to bypass Brussels by talking directly with national leaders.
The leader of the far-right League has long-established alliances with euroskeptic parties like Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France, or Viktor Orban’s Fidesz in Hungary. But this is the first time that a senior member of an EU government has been so openly critical of Brussels’ approach to the Brexit talks: “There is no objectivity or good faith from the European side,” he reportedly said.
His advice to the U.K. is to hold out in ongoing negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement, and prepare for a no-deal scenario, “because on some principles there is no need to be flexible and you should not go backwards.”
In the government contract underpinning Italy’s coalition between Salivini’s League party and the populist 5Stars, the two parties said they wanted to renegotiate EU treaties with a view to shrinking EU competencies. But the document stops short of calling for Italy’s exit from the EU.
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