Britain must not expect to end up with more rights than other countries outside the EU following Brexit negotiations, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned in an interview Thursday (29 September).
Renzi also told the BBC that he blamed Britain’s former premier David Cameron for June’s vote to leave the European Union.
His comments are the latest from a European leader to highlight the tough stance Britain is likely to face in Brexit negotiations when it triggers Article 50, the two-year process for leaving.
The European Union needs a reboot in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave, Italy’s prime minister said Monday (22 July) as he prepared to meet his French and German counterparts to discuss the fallout from Brexit.
Although Britain has yet to formally set out its demands as part of any Brexit deal, many in government are hoping to limit freedom of movement, a key reason why millions of Britons backed Brexit in a bid to reduce immigration, whilst maintaining business access to the single market.
“It will be impossible to give to British people more rights than other people out of the EU,” Renzi said, speaking in English.
Asked about whether he was willing to be flexible, Renzi said the issue would be discussed once formal divorce talks begin.
“This debate will be a debate about the concept of rules in the EU but when the UK will decide to open article 50, we will discuss it,” he said.
“When David Cameron decided to use the referendum to solve some internal problem in the Conservative party, this was the problem,” Renzi added.
Cameron was seen as having called the referendum to try and placate eurosceptics in his party and stem the rise of the anti-EU UK Independence Party.
Renzi added that the vote to leave the EU was “a bad decision” but the result should be respected.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Government think tank warned that planning for Brexit could cost Britain’s government £65 million (75 million euros, $85 million) a year in a new report out Thursday.
It also urged Prime Minister Theresa May to make clear when she plans to activate Article 50.
“In the absence of a clear plan, ‘Kremlinology’ and off-the-cuff remarks are filling the void,” it said.
In the aftermath of the Brexit vote, Rome and Madrid are leading the race to gain the right to host influential EU agencies, while Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia could remain empty-handed.