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Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has started the bloc’s “disintegration”, Italy’s minister for European affairs has said.
Sandro Gozi, an ally of outgoing Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, said his country was facing a “period of uncertainty” following the vote this weekend to reject a planned constitutional reform.
The centre-left Democratic Party minister argued that the referendum defeat represented a missed opportunity to reform European institutions and save the EU from falling apart.
“I think that the beginning of European disintegration has started with Brexit,” Mr Gozi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“It is up to the other 27 governments to re-launch Europe. That was our policy, that was our goal as the Renzi government. It is clear that now Europe loses a major political actor to its relaunch.”
Speaking on the same programme, a spokesperson for Italy’s anti-politics Five Star Movement took aim at the European single currency.
“The Euro is a problem for Italy right now and we would like to get people’s voices on that because we never did,” Daniele Caprera said.
“There were so many promises made by the old politics which people believed. I think the Euro is damaging the Italian economy.”
He argued that the EU needed reform: “There is already a crisis in the EU, there is no denial on that. This current Europe system doesn’t meet the European people’s need.
“It’s more an economic system and it doesn’t help socially any other problem that there are in Europe with immigration, financial problems. Europe right now is being used to bring in countries, to bring in cheap labour, to lower everybody’s salary, it’s not a very good system.”
The Italian referendum was ostensibly a plan to scrap direct elections to the Italian Senate, the upper house of the Italian Parliament. The confidence of the newly undemocratic chamber would not have been required to form a government after the reforms.
Proponents of the plan said it would have improved the stability of Italian governments – which are notoriously fragile.