Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has urged the British government to come good on a Brexit deal but admitted it was currently “difficult to feel optimistic” amid legal wrangling over the withdrawal agreement.
“Obviously the legislative move in the UK creates tension,” said Conte, referring to Boris Johnson’s tabling of a bill that violates key elements of the agreement reached with Brussels last year.
“But beyond this step I believe there will be an agreement in the end … and trust that the British government will be willing to reach one that ensures reciprocal advantages,” he said in an interview with the Guardian and five other European newspapers in Rome.
Conte is under pressure from Italian exporters to ensure a favourable Brexit outcome amid fears that Johnson’s move could jeopardise commercial relations with one of Italy’s biggest markets.
A law professor from Puglia, Conte arrived on the political scene in June 2018 after being plucked from obscurity to lead a coalition between the Five Star Movement (M5S) and Matteo Salvini’s far-right League. That alliance collapsed in the summer of 2019 after Salvini’s failed attempt to bring about snap elections.
Conte had been expected to quietly step aside, but in what was the first indication of his growing confidence, he delivered a blistering attack against Salvini in parliament before carving out a new majority between M5S and the centre-left Democratic party.
From a figure once…
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