THE worst dispute between France and Italy since the World War Two escalated rapidly today when President Emmanuel Macron recalled his Ambassador to Rome.

It follows rising antagonism between the two neighbours, who were on opposing sides when the Nazis occupied Paris in 1940.

The Italians have been sniping at the French, with a statement from France’s foreign office reading: “For several months, France has been the target of repeated, baseless attacks and outrageous statements

“Having disagreements is one thing but manipulating the relationship for electoral aims is another.”

It added that the attacks against Mr Macron’s administration were “without precedent since World War Two.”

Italy’s two deputy prime ministers, Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio have attacked Mr Macron over a number of issues, including the Yellow Vest Movement that has been demonstrating since November 17.

The foreign ministry’s statement continued: “All of these actions are creating a serious situation which is raising questions about the Italian government’s intentions towards France.”

It added that its Ambassador to Rome would be called back immediately for talks.

This week, Mr Di Maio met French Yellow Vests and said “The wind of change have crossed the Alps.”

Both countries have accused each other over exploiting their differences for electoral gain – Mr Salvini to push his far-right, populist agenda and Mr Macron to make him look like a moderate centrists.

Mr Salvini has described Mr Macron as a “terrible president’ and told French voters not to vote for his En Marche! party in European Parliament elections in May.

Italy’s populist coalition government has launched a clampdown on migration across the Mediterranean from North Africa – which has led to a bitter falling out with Macron’s centrist French regime.

Macron recently publicly criticised Rome for refusing to take in the migrant rescue ship the Aquarius which was carrying 629 people.

Spain eventually intervened to take the vessel when Italy closed its ports.

Mr Maio has blamed France for helping create Europe’s immigration crisis by continuing to "colonise" Africa.

Relations between the two neighbouring countries since WW2 have been warm with the pair helping to co-found the European Community – the predecessor to the EU.

France and Italy were also founding members of the G7 and NATO.

However, during WW2, Italy’s fascist regime led by Benito Mussolini sided with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

Italy declared war on France and Britain on June 10, 1940.