Europe News

A disorderly Brexit will harm 'unstable' Italy, says former PM Letta

Key Points
  • U.K. lawmakers are struggling to agree on a deal to leave the European Union.
  • Resignations from ministers have put pressure on the Prime Minister Theresa May.
  • The former Prime Minister of Italy says he is scared that no deal will harm Europe.
Pro-EU protesters demonstrate against Brexit with flags outside the House of Parliament on November 13, 2018 in London, England. 
Jack Taylor | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The former prime minister of Italy has told CNBC he fears for stability in Europe, and Italy in particular, should there be a chaotic outcome to Brexit negotiations.

U.K. Prime Minister, Theresa May, outlined her draft deal to take Britain and Northern Ireland out of the European Union (EU) on Wednesday evening to her most senior colleagues. The proposal has triggered four resignations from her government, most notably Dominic Raab, the minister in charge of negotiating Brexit.

Speaking to CNBC Thursday, the former Prime Minister of Italy, Enrico Letta, said an unruly departure by the U.K. from the EU could roil European markets and further destabilize his own country.

"There is a link, because the Italian situation is a very unstable one, a very complicated one," Letta said before adding, "Frankly speaking I am scared of an unstable storm, a complicated situation from abroad that can bring instability to the markets and then to Italy too."

Letta said the Brexit issue could become "a big systemic problem for Europe" if lawmakers in the U.K. don't pass the draft agreement between May's team and that of EU negotiator Michel Barnier.

The former Italian leader said the balance of power in Brexit negotiations now lay with the U.K.'s main opposition Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

"We think May doesn't have the majority, so the only way is to have a bipartisan vote with the Labour Party. Everything is in the hands of Corbyn."

"I am afraid and concerned about a collapse, a 'no deal'".

Letta resigned as Italian prime minister in 2014 after his own party called for a change of leadership. His successor, Matteo Renzi, was defeated at the ballot box in March 2018 and, after weeks of negotiations, a new coalition government was formed, comprising the right-wing Lega Party and populist Five Star Movement.

The coalition has shown signs of strain but has come together around a desire to fulfil election promises to increase government spending in 2019. That has put it on a collision course with the European Commission, leading to suggestions that Italy could become another country to quit the EU.