How a triumphant Matteo Salvini plans to build a new coalition of eurosceptics with Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen

As the full scale of his win in the European elections became apparent, a beaming Matteo Salvini sent out a photograph to his millions of supporters in Italy.

Standing in his office, he held a handwritten placard that read “First party in Italy – thank you”, a reference to the thumping win scored by the League, the hard-Right party he leads.

But it was the objects arrayed behind him on a bookshelf that sent an equally important, if less obvious message, not just to voters in Italy but to the rest of the world.

There was a baseball cap with the slogan Make America Great Again, a photograph of Vladimir Putin and behind it a book about the Russian president that bore his portrait.

On the shelf below…

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