Liz Truss' congratulations to Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni has raised eyebrows (Photo: WPA Pool via Getty Images)
The tweet itself seemed rather typical for one European leader to send to another. It read: “Congratulations to @GiorgiaMeloni on her party’s success in the Italian elections. From supporting Ukraine to addressing global economic challenges, the UK and Italy are close allies.”
However, Meloni leads the Brothers of Italy party, which has its origins in Italian fascism.
Meloni, while she will be Italy’s first female prime minister, she will also be the country’s first far-right leader since Benito Mussolini, who ruled until the end of the Second World War.
Watch: Italy - Will Far-Right Return to Power For First Time Since WWII?
She has tried to move the party – and her own reputation – away from its fascist past, despite still employing a slogan so often linked to that period: “God, fatherland and family.”
Meloni is also anti-immigration and rigid on LGBT rights, although she has championed assistance for anyone struggling during cost of living crisis throughout her campaign, which is believed to have helped her get ahead of her opponents and secure 26% of the expected vote.
And, while Meloni has promised to stick to Italy’s Nato commitments, and continue backing European sanctions against Russia, her coalition partners – Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi – have both been linked to the Kremlin.
So, Twitter was not exactly delighted by Truss’ wording in her congratulations tweet – especially as only a few weeks ago, she said the “jury is out” on whether French president Emmanuel Macron is friend or foe.
I want a government that sees the election of a neofascist as a cause for alarm, not a cause for congratulations. https://t.co/e4r39E7VqO
— George Monbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) September 27, 2022
💄Girlboss fascism 💃 https://t.co/0rTOuHkajq
— Laura Shortridge-Scott 💙🏴 (@DiscordianKitty) September 27, 2022
This parody account is not funny any more.
It is grotesque for them to imagine that an English Prime Minister, even one as sickeningly authoritarian as Truss, would coo admiringly over an actual Fascist's victory. https://t.co/tbRTseMjFV
— PuzzledPolitico (@Cat_n_Bagpipes) September 27, 2022
Mussolini’s heir is a friend but the jury is out on Macron 🤦♂️ https://t.co/F4KdCZ5PHr
— Tom Ferguson (@tom10248) September 27, 2022
Trying to find what she said about non-fascist, pro-UK President of France …. Ah yes, friend or foe, the jury’s out … https://t.co/RjOOM9JuwI
— ALASTAIR CAMPBELL (@campbellclaret) September 27, 2022
Gonna be honest, I'm not bullish on Truss remaining as Prime Minister for long https://t.co/9jYF4glmHa
— Noah Smith 🐇🇺🇦 (@Noahpinion) September 27, 2022
Nothing at all on the economy going up in flames, but did find time to applaud the fash. https://t.co/FDitK3TtsT
— Simon HB (@norock) September 27, 2022
Here's Liz Truss congratulating the far-right for winning the elections in Italy.
To quote Auntie Maya again 'when someone shows you who they believe them the first time.'
No UK Prime Minster should be sycophantic to any far right-wing aka racist politican.
We see you Truss 👀 https://t.co/OCxTqNCGNW
— Lorraine King (@lorrainemking) September 26, 2022
For context, Brussels greeted Meloni’s expected win by warning that Italy still has to follow democratic principles.
Similarly, French president Emmanuel Macron simply said that the government respects the democratic choice of Italian voters.
But Russia was pleased about the results, as a Kremlin spokesperson told reporters: “We are ready to welcome any political forces that are able to go beyond the established mainstream, which is filled with hate for our country.”
China, too, has said it hopes there would be a “healthy and stable” relationship between the two countries.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.