The UK media sensationalised a political meeting between Rishi Sunak and Giorgia Meloni, labelling it a “love-burst”. Instead, the event in Rome focused on migration controls and blurred lines between the Conservative and far-right politicians.

T he British media has focussed, in a slightly sleazy way, on the alleged “love-burst” between the UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni on the issue of migration controls.

I kid you not. “Love-burst” was the word used by The Guardian in its headline for a news story on Mr Sunak’s attendance at a rightwing political meeting in Rome.

— “Love-burst”: the word used by The Guardian in its headline, 16 December 2023.

I know that Francesco Galietti of a Rome political consultancy first used the term “love-burst”, but still. Mr Galietti said in reference to the right-wing meeting, named after a character in the dark fantasy epic The Neverending Story: “Sunak going to Atreju, a party-specific event, is weird, but you have to consider this love-burst within the context of geopolitics.”

The Atreju meeting, described for some reason as a “festival”, was organised by Ms Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party and attended by the leader of Spain’s far-right Vox party, Santiago Abascal as well as Mr Sunak.

The three of them met Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, whose country has become the place where Italy will send uninvited migrants. That deal is seen to be inspired by the UK Conservative government’s repeated attempts to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Mr Sunak told the right-wing festival that illegal migration could “overwhelm” Europe, and it might be time to think of a change in international law to prevent “enemies” from using immigration as a “weapon” and “deliberately driving people to our shores to try to destabilise our society.”

The Rome meeting was interesting in that it reflected the increasingly blurred lines between Europe’s far-right politicians and those from more traditional conservative backgrounds.

— The British media sensationalised the political meeting between Rishi Sunak and Giorgia Meloni, labelling it a “love-burst”.

So where some can discern the emerging political contours of Europe, the British media — and The Daily Mail, in particular — sees a sorta, kinda tryst.

A few paragraphs from its report:

“The Prime Minister and his Italian counterpart were delighted to get touchy-feely with one another as they met in the country’s capital, which is known for being synonymous with romance, for an event organised by Ms Meloni’s right-wing party.

“The pair have appeared close in previous meetings and were again pictured getting intimate as they shared a warm embrace and a peck on the cheek multiple times during their meeting.

“Ms Meloni, separated from her partner Viviana Guglielmi, 46, earlier this year after he made a number of sleazy comments towards another woman.

“Mr Sunak, who shares two daughters Krishna, 11, and Anoushka, 10, with his wife Akshata Murty, has developed a close partnership with Ms Meloni over their shared desire for tougher action on migrants in Europe.”

Honestly, if we didn’t know that Mr Sunak has an apparently happy family life, it would sound like he was on a tryst with Ms Meloni and the two were about to fall into bed. A real bed, not just the political bed — littered with standards and symbols of the culture wars — into which several centre-right conservative European leaders are clambering.

PMP Magazine



Text: This piece was first published in Medium and re-published in PMP Magazine on 22 December 2023 under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
Cover: Flickr/Number 10. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)
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