Nicholas Farrell Nicholas Farrell

La bomba Britannica

Nearly half of Italians want to quit the EU too... but for them it would be much more complicated

In Italy, media coverage of the triumph of Brexit has been wall-to-wall as Italians worry about the collateral damage and wonder if they too dare…

So far La bomba Britannica has hit the Milan stock market much harder than the London one. On Friday, Milan fell by 12 per cent against the FTSE-100’s 3.5 per cent.

Italy’s banks — too numerous, too small, undercapitalised and saddled with alarming levels of toxic debt — took the biggest hit. New eurozone rules that ban government bailouts for big depositors have turned them into sitting ducks. Shares in Monte Paschi di Siena (bailed out once already in 2013 by Italy’s central bank) fell by more than 13 per cent. In the past six months, Italy’s banks have lost 56 per cent of their share value.

But there was good news for Italian clam fishermen and restaurants specialising in spaghetti con le vongole: at long last the European Commission has agreed to increase the permitted minimum size of vongole by 3mm to 25mm.

But the economic situation in Italy at the dark heart of the eurozone remains bleak and the urge to get the heck out grows. As the front-page splash of the anti-EU Libero newspaper proclaimed last Friday: ‘May God Pour Profuse Blessings On the English: the great democracy on the other side of the Channel teaches the whole Continent how it should treat its citizens.’

That is a pro-British rewriting of the exhortation of the second world war fascist propagandist Mario Appelius, who ended each transmission by telling listeners: ‘Dio stramaledica gli inglesi.’ (Let God Pour Profuse Curses on the English.’)

As Libero editor Vittorio Feltri commented: ‘It’s written in the history books and also in the news: the only true functioning democracy is the English one… The United Kingdom has provided proof for the umpteenth time that it believes in the will of the people and that it knows how to respect it with elegance.

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