Pardon the pun, but it seems rather apt in describing Boris Johnson's comments to Carlo Calenda, Italy's economics minister, in relation to the Foreign Secretary's claims that they should provide the UK with tariff-free access to prosecco. Calenda retorted that we would be unable to sell fish and chips to them if we quit the Single Market altogether.
What is the December referendum all about?
But beyond the insults of exports lies a profound challenge for Italy next month that demonstrates they have "bigger fish to fry" than the ones we currently export to them; the referendum on their proposed constitutional reforms. The markets should be preparing for a result far more substantial to the Euro's, and even the EU's, future than #Brexit and Trump.
The Italian #Government has announced a referendum on constitutional reforms due to be held on Sunday December 4th. Matteo Renzi, Italy's current Prime Minister, has offered his resignation if the country votes against their proposals to amend the Italian Constitution. Yet by personalising the ballot, Renzi has provided an opportunity for voters to vent their anger against the left-right coalition that has failed to generate an economic recovery.
How did the referendum come about?
The situation emerged as a result of Renzi's failure to secure a two-thirds majority in their parliament for the changes he needs. The Prime Minister's aim is to transform Italy into a more governable country due to the frequent changes in government they have experienced since the formation of their Republic 70 years ago. With 63 different governments throughout that lifespan, it is little wonder these proposals are necessary. Both chambers possess equal legislative powers. The reforms would reduce the Senate's power and eradicate an overlap of responsibilities between the central and regional governments.
They would essentially centralise Renzi's power and the re-election of deputies would depend almost entirely upon the popularity of the Prime Minister. He would be free to govern with an absolute majority in parliament.
The implications of defeat
But if the Prime Minister resigns, political turmoil awaits Italy. They have debts of 132.7% GDP and a banking sector struggling due to sluggish growth. The Five Star Movement, established by comedian Beppe Grillo, will benefit from a government defeat. Italy is restricted by the eurozone's structures and neither Merkel nor the European Commission are prepared to cut them some slack in regards to their enormous debts.
If this happens, then the EU could be witnessing another Greek-style crisis that would be difficult to contain. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Italy's third largest lender, has the highest ratio of bad debts to outstanding loans among existing banks. Rome and Brussels entered talks during the summer to use public money to stave off huge losses for banks and shareholders. This would result in anti-bailout rules adopted in 2014 to prevent investors and some depositors to share the burden of bank failures. But the question is: will the EU exercise flexibility if the Italian Government loses on December 4th?
In a year when Brexit and Trump both happened, there is no reason to doubt that this referendum will fail. It's time Italy sorted out its priorities and stopped worrying about British takeaways or prosecco; they have bigger fish to fry. #Politics