Silvio Berlusconi considered pulling Italy out of the euro in late 2011 before European financial officials brought about his removal from office, an ex-European Central Bank official has claimed.
Lorenzo Bini-Smaghi, who served on the ECB's executive council, claimed in his book Morire di Austerita (Dying of Austerity) that Berlusconi was ousted as Italian leader in November 2011 once he started discussing withdrawing Italy from the euro with European officials.
Smaghi claims that Berlusconi discussed Italy's withdrawal in private meetings with other member states who were part of the Euro.
The ex-ECB member's declaration comes after an account by Fabrizio Goria reported European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso telling one of Italy's government ministers in 2011 that "you need to unplug Berlusconi".
"In that moment Barroso revealed what the strategy was: a flurry of declarations against the then prime minister. From all fronts, from every European policy maker. The message to be sent was one and one only: Berlusconi is inadequate." Goria writes.
In response to the news, UKIP leader Nigel Farage told the Huffington Post UK: "Back in February 2010 I predicted that the EU would be the 'the quiet assassin of European democracy', in November the next year, we now have confirmed the second political assassination of a democratically elected European leader, that of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, immediately after the Greek prime minister was also sidelined. Their crime? George Papendreou threatened a referendum on Euro membership, and Berlusconi threatened to pull Italy out of the single currency.
"Yesterday the EU Commission president talked about European values - but we have to ask which ones he is talking about. Are they the ones fostered in the English speaking world, those of Parliamentary democracy, autonomy, liberty, the rule of law and fair play, or was he harking back to an older, darker set of values, that held sway on the Continent for hundreds of years, of autocracy, central control, demagoguery and obedience?
"Whether for or against these respective leaders, their swift removal from positions of governance following pressure by the EU is something to be deeply concerned about.”