Europe Meloni and Sunak's political crush

They instinctively look for each other at the peaks

Europe Meloni and Sunak's political crush

They instinctively look for each other at the peaks. They tend to discreetly move away from the crowd and have a laugh together. Favors and courtesy visits are returned. There is definitely chemistry between them. And this weekend they were able to exploit their political crush like never before at the so-called Atreju Summit, in honor of Atreyu, the boy warrior from The Neverending Story.

Georgia Meloni (Rome, 1977) and Rishi Sunak (Southampton, 1980) form the couple of the moment on the European board, with the ubiquitous Elon Musk as godfather and Santiago Abascal as witness, in the meeting of the hard right that for four days celebrates in the Italian capital and this year has the British premier as an illustrious special guest.

United against irregular immigration, united by books and fantasy films, both admirers of the thinker Roger Scruton, Meloni and Sunak have strengthened their ties at the festival that since 1998 has served as an amalgamation for ultra-conservative youth.

Five years ago, the star at the Atreju Summit was Donald Trump's mastermind, Steve Bannon, who unequivocally proclaimed: "Italy is now the center of the political universe. Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini are subversive. Yours is the most important. From here the revolution can begin."

The other guest of 2018 was, by the way, Nigel Farage, the founder of Ukip, another lover of Meloni, whom he even entertained with these words: "The torch is now in your hands." A year later, the great protagonist was the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, who spoke for all populist leaders: "We are forced to fight an unfairly difficult battle."

The Atreju Summit was actually Meloni's first great love, before making the leap into great politics with Brothers of Italy. In his autobiography he remembers how his goal was always to "invite the most important people of the moment, people we love or those we oppose, the people who cause the most debate and whom we are interested in getting to know better."

This year, the character "of the moment" seems to be Sunak, in competition with Elon Musk. The unusual triangle was in fact forged at the Artificial Intelligence summit in London, which Meloni attended as the sole representative of the G7. The entente cordiale goes back a long way, since they coincided at the COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh in 2022.

The ties were strengthened at the NATO summit in Vilnius, when they were photographed together laughing at a mobile phone. The political romance was forged, however, in October and at the meeting of 50 European leaders in Granada, used by the two to make an unusual joint appeal: "We are proud that Italy and the United Kingdom are leading together on this and other issues. Our "Our perspectives and our goals are the same. In fact, we are two of the closest friends in Europe today."

Sunak does not miss the opportunity to praise Meloni's determination to defend his immigration policy in court and "stand up to the criminal gangs who decide who comes to Europe." His new approach to the leader of the Brothers of Italy occurs curiously a few days after the battle waged by the premier against the hardline wing of his own party, which threatened to torpedo his new law to enable the deportations to Rwanda of thousands of irregular immigrants pending asylum application.

However, Sunak's attendance at the Atreju festival has set off alarm bells in progressive sectors. "The fact that his relationship with Meloni is increasingly closer and that he is taking notes on the measures of a far-right leader says a lot about where the Conservative Party is going," warns Goergina Lammings, spokesperson for the group Hope not Hate. ,

Sunak took advantage of his time in Rome to hold a trilateral meeting with Meloni and the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, to talk about how to tackle illegal immigration and human trafficking. The premier was in fact inspired by the line marked by Meloni to achieve the repatriation of thousands of Albanians who arrived in recent years on British shores by crossing the English Channel in boats.

In his speech, Sunak warned that "enemies are deliberately sending people to our shores to destabilize our societies." "If we don't address this problem now, the numbers will only grow and our countries will be overwhelmed," he said. His intervention was harshly criticized in the United Kingdom for using the same "toxic rhetoric" as his controversial former Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

The number of irregular migrants has actually fallen this year to 29,090 after a record 45,755 in 2022 thanks largely to the agreement with Albania. However, crossings have picked up in the final stretch of the year, and this week one immigrant died and another was seriously injured when the boat carrying 60 people deflated eight kilometers off the French coast.

Sunak's rapprochement with Meloni has also occurred simultaneously with his distancing from Emmanuel Macron, with whom he had a brief bromance that barely lasted a few months. A Downing Street spokeswoman explained the prime minister's affinity with the Italian leader "due to the fact that they were elected almost at the same time" and had to face the same challenges.

Meloni's status as president of the Group of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), founded by the Tories, makes her especially attractive in the eyes of Sunak in the post-Brexit era. And also the fact that Italy assumes the presidency of the G-7 in 2024, with a 50th anniversary summit in June and in Puglia, which the premier hopes to attend... if he is not forced to call early elections.