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Italian foreign minister warns against punishing the UK in Brexit talks

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Italian foreign minister warns against punishing the UK in Brexit talks
Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano (R) will meet his British counterpart Boris Johnson on Wednesday. Photo: John Thys/AFP
13:34 CEST+02:00
Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano warned against punishing the UK in Brexit negotiation talks.

As the UK triggered Article 50, marking the start of negotiations, Alfano, who will meet counterpart Boris Johnson on Wednesday, stressed that the UK is “leaving the EU and not Europe".

He told RTL radio: “We are allies in Nato, for example, and there are crucial issues such as security and defence on which London is a reliable ally for us."

He'll meet Johnson in London, where he said he would reiterate the importance of safeguarding the rights of Italians living in the UK and ensuring they have the same rights ensured to British people working in European countries.

Italians living in the UK told the Italian daily, La Stampa, that they no longer "feel welcomed".

Barbara Fassoni, a 48 year old architect from Milan who moved to London in 2015, said: "I sense a climate of uncertainty, I don't know what will happen but I feel like an unwelcome guest."

And as EU leaders met in Rome on Saturday to celebrate the bloc's 60th birthday, thousands of British citizens joined Marches for Europe across the continent in a show of support for the union.

"This wasn't an 'anti-Brexit' march and we don't want to reverse Brexit - it was a march generally in favour of Europe," Jeremy Morgan, the spokesperson for British in Italy, told The Local.

The group has been campaigning to push the rights of British citizens abroad to the top of the agenda in Brexit negotiations.

British in Italy counts over 600 members and works together not only with other groups of Britons in EU countries, but also with the 3 Million, the biggest group of EU citizens living in the UK.

The group has given evidence to the House of Commons Committee for Exiting the European Union, lobbied to get an amendment to the Brexit Bill passed in the House of Lords, and put their case to officials in Rome's British Embassy.

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