On 27 April, as Italy’s prime minister Giorgia Meloni visited London, it was reported that Rishi Sunak sought Rome’s endorsement of his government’s plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. A joint memo only briefly cited “tackling illegal migration”. Yet Meloni suggested to reporters after her meeting at No 10 that she did back the measure – only that she “didn’t see it as deportation”. For Meloni, “dealing with illegal immigration, you aren't deporting anyone… If [people aren’t] entitled to protection they have to go home.”
This was an odd redefinition of the verb “deport” – and for most asylum seekers, being sent to Rwanda surely isn’t going “home”. Still, as Meloni posted a video of her chummy embrace with Sunak, this wasn’t the only redefinition going on. Before Italy’s September general election, Meloni called her Fratelli d’Italia party a conservative force that shares “values” with the Tories, Israel’s Likud and US Republicans. It seems clear that these parties are increasingly alike – but is this because she’s a moderate, or because these parties are opening up their mainstream to include her?