Brexit: 'Impossible' for UK to get EU deal with any special privileges, Italian PM Renzi warns

Britain will have to settle for the same conditions as any other non-EU country, Renzi says

Click to follow
Indy Politics

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.

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".

Comments