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How dare the hypocritical French attack Italy over migrants?


So, you would like to see a genuinely conservative government in the UK? Do not despair! Let Britain and Europe’s liberal Left politicians and policy-makers have their way and just see what verdict the electorate delivers.

This is, more or less, what recently finished off the Democratic Party government in Italy. Its vote halved to under 20 per cent and an alliance between two Eurosceptic parties – the League and the Five Star Movement – has come to power.

Most of all, the Italian people have called time on the EU’s management of Italy’s immigration and economic policies. It comes as no surprise to see nationalistic ‘populism’ trumping Brussels’s ‘un-populism’.

Italy has been pushed too far and, these days, has no more desire than other Europeans to be a dumping ground for economic migrants. A few days ago it closed its ports to the Aquarius, a non-Italian registered ship carrying migrants towards Sicily. Eventually, Spain accepted the vessel. President Macron of France described Italy’s stance as an act of ‘cynicism and irresponsibility’. How wrong and how unfair! No EU country in recent years has displayed more compassion and generosity towards migrants than Italy.

France, in contrast, has a shocking record. It has done all it can to close its border to migrants entering the country from Italy whilst, for too long, conniving with those in France wishing to shift immigrants on to the UK.

A new report from Oxfam, Nowhere but Out, highlights President Macron’s hypocrisy in a most disturbing way. It focuses on 16,500 refugees and migrants, a quarter of whom are unaccompanied children, on the Italian-French border at Ventimiglia. According to Oxfam, French border police are incarcerating child migrants as young as 12 and leaving them without food or water. Those who possess mobile phones are having the SIM card removed.

In further violations of French and EU law, French border police have been falsifying migrant children’s date-of-birth documentation and cutting off the soles of their shoes before forcing them back into Italy, usually by train. The report’s author, Giulia Capitani, told the press that it was a way of warning migrants to stay in Italy and not to try coming back. Oxfam reports that ‘provisions and guarantees are time and again violated, as French officers put children immediately on to a regional train to Ventimiglia’.

Not all migrants, though, get the benefit of a free train back to Italy. One case cited by Oxfam is of a ‘very young’ Eritrean girl, who was forced to walk back across the border to Ventimiglia along a road with no pavement while carrying her 40-day-old baby.

Small wonder that Italy has turned from being one of the most Europhile members of the EU to one of its most Eurosceptic. Who needs enemies when you have friends like Macron? Whilst President Trump has hit the headlines for his anti-immigration measures on the US border with Mexico, the French president’s liberal credentials appear to have given him a dispensation from much criticism. The Italians, though, know the truth of it and have been voting accordingly.

Meanwhile, in economic matters, as part of the EU Italy finds itself in what Matteo Salvini, its deputy prime minister, describes as a ‘German cage’. The EU economy is run for, and in the interests of, Germany. The euro is, in effect, a soft Deutsche Mark. It gives an enormous boost to German exports but is ruining Italian competitiveness and killing its economy. Twenty years of the euro has brought it twenty years of economic stagnation. Italy needs to devalue its currency to remain competitive but within the eurozone this is not an option.

The rejection of a Eurosceptic, Paolo Savona, as prime minister by the Left-leaning Italian president added to fears that it was Germany and Brussels which were really running Italy. Salvini’s response was to ask: ‘Are we a democracy? In Italy, is it the Italians who decide or is it the Germans or the French who decide?’ The answer came from the EU’s Budget Commissioner, Gunther Oettinger of Germany, who told DW News: ‘The markets will teach the Italians to vote for the right thing.’

The President of the European Commission, Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker – widely seen as a German stooge – poured oil on to the flames by warning the Italians that they need to work harder and to reduce corruption. Whilst there may be an element of truth in what he said, his insensitive comment caused outrage in Italy.

Journalist Roberto Saviano leads Italy’s self-criticism and for this he has been living under armed guard for the past decade. Like many other Italians he does not need condescending advice from either Oettinger or from Juncker, from Berlin or from Brussels, about the issue of corruption in Italy. He has himself lamented that in Italy today:

‘. . . the criminal economy is bigger than the legal economy. Drug trafficking eclipses the revenue of oil firms. Cocaine is a £300bn-a-year business.

Italians are fed up with being lectured to by the EU. Where has it got them? Subjected to its malign influence for too long, the Italian people have finally started to turn. They have had enough of living the European nightmare. That is what hypocritical preaching and the enforcement of liberal fascism achieves in the end – the triumph of populism over un-populism. Bring it on!

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Chris McGovern
Chris McGovern
Chris McGovern is the Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education. A retired head teacher with 35 years’ teaching experience, Chris is a former advisor to the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street under two Prime Ministers.

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