Italy's Grillo takes anti-euro campaign to Brussels

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Media captionBeppe Grillo: "We will ask for a referendum - something that has already been done in 1989"

The leader of Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, has gone to the European Parliament (EP) to present his programme to get a referendum in Italy on leaving the euro "as soon as possible".

The comedian-turned-politician is aiming to collect 4m signatures by next spring.

He will then go to parliament in Rome, where many of his MPs now sit, and demand a referendum. If millions of Italians sign the petition, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won't be able to simply brush this off.

Mr Grillo, much like UKIP leader Nigel Farage in Britain, has fundamentally changed the Italian political landscape.

His protest movement came out of nowhere and snatched second place in May's European elections.

His political mantra is to get rid of the political establishment and leave the euro, which he believes has made the country poorer.

"We are Italy's Plan B," he told the BBC. "Brussels bureaucrats have distorted the dream of European democracy. Today, we are not at war with ISIS [Islamic State] or with Russia, we are at war with the European Central Bank!"

Beppe Grillo has been called a clown, a populist and a danger to his country.

Uneasy in a suit, with his long, untamed hair, he looked at odds with the rest of the be-suited eurocrats walking the corridors of the EP.

The conference room where he held his event was filled with Italians and Britons, with UKIP MEPs sitting in the first row, in a show of support.

Both political parties share a sentiment of camaraderie, and contempt for the Brussels establishment. They are also part of the same Eurosceptic grouping in the EP, Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy.

"In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell," the Five Star leader shouted. "Twenty-five years later, the wall of the euro will fall too!"

Once an entertainer, always an entertainer. He addressed the audience for almost an hour.

But can his ambitious plan turn into reality? The referendum would not be binding, but the economic situation in Italy is so difficult at the moment that he will find allies.

And he can be sure that UKIP will do everything it can to help.