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American and British conservatives have a tendency, when it comes to Europe, to adopt a very simple way of reasoning: the European Union is bad, all who oppose the EU good.

Well, not quite. In continental Europe the EU isn’t opposed by Thatcherites fighting for deregulation and lower taxes, but most of the time by nationalists who will be most happy to go back to a command-and-control economy and who reject the European Union as a “neoliberal” contrivance.

The Italian political situation has evolved in the last few days in a rather unexpected way. The Northern League has staged a dust up over the appointment, in a populist government, of Mr Savona, an 82 years old technocrat who fantasised in public over a plan to “secretly” leave the euro. The head of state refused to make him minister of the economy and no agreement was reached over a substitute. In short, the so-called “populists” have chosen to go back to elections rather than mediating with the head of state. It is a grave and complex institutional crisis.

We may end up with a show-down on the euro and Italy’s EU membership very soon – and the output is hard to predict, though the anti-european parties have the better cards so far. My take in this piece on