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Hard Brexit will cost Italy a fortune warns Carlo Calenda | Politics | News

Italian Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda revealed the alarming figure and warned there most not be a “rupture” with the UK, despite Brussels’ Brexit threats.

And even if a hard break was avoided and Britain brokered a free trade agreement similar to Norway’s or Canada’s, Italy could still lose up to €370million in exports, he claimed.

Mr Calenda admitted: “We have to negotiate. 

“But are we in a position to accept any proposal from Britain? No. I think this is a starting point. 

“It’s not like if we do not reach an agreement, we will die, but we must avoid a rupture at any cost.”

But he claimed political turmoil in the UK was also affecting the prospect of reaching a deal.

He said: “Brexit negotiations will not be easy until the end of the political clash inside Britain.”

Mr Calenda made headlines on Brexit last year in a bizarre row with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson over fish and chips.

Back then, the minister appeared to laugh of any threat to Italian exports from Britain leaving the EU.

Speaking to Bloomberg, he claimed Mr Johnson had told him Britain would get access to the Single Market because “you don’t want to lose prosecco exports”.

Mr Calenda recalled: “He basically said, ‘I don’t want free movement of people but I want the single market.

“I said, ‘no way.’ 

“He said, ‘you’ll sell less prosecco.’ 

“I said, ‘OK, you’ll sell less fish and chips, but I’ll sell less prosecco to one country and you’ll sell less to 27 countries.’ 

“Putting things on this level is a bit insulting.”

Mr Calenda’s latest intervention in the Brexit debate came as EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier set the UK a two-week deadline to clarify its position on a divorce bill.

Brussels wants the Brexit bill to be finalised before moving on to thrashing out a trade deal.

There had been hope negotiations could move on to a future relationship in December.

But Mr Barnier appeared to say that would not be possible without a financial commitment. 

The bloc is after a settlement of up to €60billion from the UK.

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