The outspoken leader of Italy's right-wing, anti-EU Northern League party has refused to apologize for comparing the lower house speaker to a blow-up sex doll.

Matteo Salvini has remained defiant in the face of strong criticism for degrading remarks aimed at house speaker Laura Boldrini, telling Sky TG24 on Tuesday that he had no intention of apologizing for holding a blow-up doll aloft at a weekend rally and calling it "Boldrini's clone." He has, instead, kept up the attack with Twitter posts with a hashtag that translates to "deflate Boldrini."

Boldrini has thanked all those who came to her defense, saying that Salvini has created "an Italy that cannot put up any more with the sexist obscenities."

She said such "degradation of the public discourse harms the whole society."