The UK has made a "bad decision" in voting for Brexit and cannot expect to receive any special privileges when it negotiates the terms of its exit from the EU, the Italian Prime Minister has warned.
Matteo Renzi, who is fighting his own referendum campaign in Italy at the moment, blamed David Cameron for Britain's decision to leave, saying he used the Brexit vote to try and "solve some internal problems of the Conservative Party".
Speaking in an interview with the BBC in Rome, he also warned the process of leaving the EU over the next two or more years would prove "very difficult" for Britain.
But he did also strike a positive note, suggesting Britain's departure could provide new impetus to the remaining members of the bloc.
Mr Renzi said there was an interesting "debate" to be had about whether the rules of the EU allowed for "flexibility" over freedom of movement and access to the single-market.
But he told the BBC that could only take place once the UK has triggered Article 50, officially starting the process of its departure.
And he added: "It will be impossible to give to British people more rights than other people outside the EU."
He said: "The people of the UK decided the way for the future. Now the situation is that we can - and we have to - build the best alliance between the UK and the EU for the future because we will be the best friends for the next years.
"And at the same time I think this decision could push European leaders to invest in a new way for Europe."
Mr Renzi's own referendum campaign, on whether or not to limit the powers of Italy's upper house and make it easier for the government to push through reforms, is finely poised.
Defeat for what has become known as "Renzi's referendum" would be a crushing blow to his political ambitions - like with Mr Cameron, it is thought unlikely he would be able to remain as Prime Minister if he lost.
But while Mr Renzi has staked his future on reform of Italy's internal political system, he was scathing about Mr Cameron's decision to put matters of "foreign affairs" to a nationwide vote.
Asked what led Britain to vote for Brexit, he said: "The problem was one problem.
"When David Cameron decided to use a referendum to solve some internal problems of the Conservative Party, this was the problem. We cannot use foreign affairs to solve internal problems."
The interview with Mr Renzi came as the boss of Jaguar Land Rover warned tariffs on UK exports to the EU would be "disastrous" for jobs in the British car industry.
What experts have said about Brexit
What experts have said about Brexit
1/11 Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond
The Chancellor claims London can still be a world financial hub despite Brexit “One of Britain’s great strengths is the ability to offer and aggregate all of the services the global financial services industry needs” “This has not changed as a result of the EU referendum and I will do everything I can to ensure the City of London retains its position as the world’s leading international financial centre.”
2/11 Yanis Varoufakis
Greece's former finance minister compared the UK relations with the EU bloc with a well-known song by the Eagles: “You can check out any time you like, as the Hotel California song says, but you can't really leave. The proof is Theresa May has not even dared to trigger Article 50. It's like Harrison Ford going into Indiana Jones' castle and the path behind him fragmenting. You can get in, but getting out is not at all clear”
3/11 Michael O’Leary
Ryanair boss says UK will be ‘screwed’ by EU in Brexit trade deals: “I have no faith in the politicians in London going on about how ‘the world will want to trade with us’. The world will want to screw you – that's what happens in trade talks,” he said. “They have no interest in giving the UK a deal on trade”
4/11 Tim Martin
JD Wetherspoon's chairman has said claims that the UK would see serious economic consequences from a Brexit vote were "lurid" and wrong: “We were told it would be Armageddon from the OECD, from the IMF, David Cameron, the chancellor and President Obama who were predicting locusts in the fields and tidal waves in the North Sea"
5/11 Mark Carney
Governor of Bank of England is 'serene' about Bank of England's Brexit stance: “I am absolutely serene about the … judgments made both by the MPC and the FPC”
6/11 Christine Lagarde
IMF chief urges quick Brexit to reduce economic uncertainty: “We want to see clarity sooner rather than later because we think that a lack of clarity feeds uncertainty, which itself undermines investment appetites and decision making”
7/11 Inga Beale
Lloyd’s chief executive says Brexit is a major issue: "Clearly the UK's referendum on its EU membership is a major issue for us to deal with and we are now focusing our attention on having in place the plans that will ensure Lloyd's continues trading across Europe”
8/11 Colm Kelleher
President of US bank Morgan Stanley says City of London ‘will suffer’ as result of the EU referendum: “I do believe, and I said prior to the referendum, that the City of London will suffer as result of Brexit. The issue is how much”
9/11 Richard Branson
Virgin founder believes we've lost a THIRD of our value because of Brexit and cancelled a deal worth 3,000 jobs: We're not any worse than anybody else, but I suspect we've lost a third of our value which is dreadful for people in the workplace.' He continued: "We were about to do a very big deal, we cancelled that deal, that would have involved 3,000 jobs, and that’s happening all over the country"
10/11 Barack Obama
US President believes Britain was wrong to vote to leave the EU: "It is absolutely true that I believed pre-Brexit vote and continue to believe post-Brexit vote that the world benefited enormously from the United Kingdom's participation in the EU. We are fully supportive of a process that is as little disruptive as possible so that people around the world can continue to benefit from economic growth"
11/11 Kristin Forbes
American economist and an external member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England argues that the economy had been “less stormy than many expected” following the shock referendum result: “For now…the economy is experiencing some chop, but no tsunami. The adverse winds could quickly pick up – and merit a stronger policy response. But recently they have shifted to a more favourable direction”
Hanno Kirner, executive director at JLR, issued the stark warning at a joint Government-industry “Great Britain” event, ahead of the Paris Motor Show.
Meanwhile, an influential think-tank with close links to Whitehall has called on the Government to appoint 500 more civil servants at a cost of £65 million to handle Brexit negotiations.
The report from the Institute for Government criticised Theresa May's opaque "Brexit means Brexit" stance on how departure from the EU will work in practice.
And it said her decision to divide Brexit up among three separate departments meant time was being "wasted" on "political squabbles and turf wars".Reuse content