Prosecco vs Fish and Chips? An Italian minister says Boris Johnson's Brexit talks are "insulting"

Mark Sands
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The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June. (Source: Getty)

An Italian minister has pleaded with the British government to “put its cards on the table” over Brexit, complaining that foreign minister Boris Johnson has reduced debate to “insulting” levels.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Italy's economic development minister recalled that Johnson had told him Britain would be granted easy access to Single Market “because you don't want to lose prosecco exports”.

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

“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.”

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Calenda added that while he respected the British vote, the UK must be clear in its plans.

“Somebody needs to tell us something, and it needs to be something that makes sense,” Carlo Calenda said in an interview at his Rome office on Tuesday. “You can’t say that it’s sensible to say we want access to the single market but no free circulation of people. It’s obvious that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”

It comes as a former Foreign Office official has told MPs that Brexit planning is proving “a considerable challenge” to Whitehall, with the government yet to establish a central plan for its EU negotiations.

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