Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned on Tuesday after lambasting his deputy Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party, The Guardian reported. Conte said he will formally tender his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella after the debate in the Italian Senate is over on Tuesday.

In his speech in the Senate in Rome, Conte labelled Salvini an “opportunist” for triggering a government crisis that could have “serious consequences” for Italy. Conte said Salvini had betrayed Italian citizens by pulling out of the alliance with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement earlier this month. The League and the movement had formed a coalition government in June 2018, BBC reported.

The League had earlier in the day sought a no-confidence vote against Conte, but he avoided that through his resignation. “He is only looking after his own interests and those of his party,” said Conte. “Calling on voters every year is irresponsible.” Conte claimed that the prospect of Salvini taking over as Italy’s next prime minister sounded “worrying”.

“I take this opportunity to announce that I will present my resignation as head of government to the president of the republic,” Conte said.

“I’ll ask the Madonna for protection for as long as I live,” Salvini retorted in response. “I’m the only humble witness. My country matters more to me than the comfy seats.” Salvini also claimed that the country’s biggest problem is its low birth rate. He promised to bring in a €50 billion budget for 2020 that focuses “on lowering taxes, the right to life…growth, investment.”

According to the Italian Constitution, President Mattarella holds the power to call fresh elections or seek the formation of a new parliamentary majority.

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