Italy’s Interior Minister on Tuesday called France’s Emmanuel Macron a “terrible president” amid escalating tensions over migration between Rome and Paris.
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who also leads the far-right Lega party, accused the French leader of “talking a lot but not achieving much” in a Facebook live stream.
“He gives lessons in generosity but then rejects thousands of migrants at the Italian border,” Salvini said.
The interior minister went on to say that he hopes “the French will get rid of a terrible president” once they go to the ballots on May 26 to vote for the European Parliament.
“The French people will be able to take back their future and their pride, badly represented by a character like Macron.”
“The French people had a choice between [Marine] Le Pen and E Macron and made it,” French Minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau responded on Twitter.
“Matteo Salvini is insulting the French. What are the Italians gaining from it? Nothing. Does it make any difference in French politics? No,” the minister added.
The stoush comes after the other Italian Deputy Prime Minister, Luigi Di Maio, accused Paris of leading colonial-style policies in Africa that are “impoverishing” Africans and driving them to Europe’s shores, leading to France summoning Italy’s ambassador.
Earlier on Tuesday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had tried to reassure that the migration rows did not threaten the “historic friendship” between the two neighbours.
“This relationship remains strong and steady in spite of any political dispute,” Conte said in a statement.