October 2, 2019 / 10:03 PM / a month ago

Pompeo says 'certainly some risk' to economies if Brexit goes ahead

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference with Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio (not pictured) in Rome, Italy, October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

ROME (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday there is “certainly some risk” that if Britain leaves the European Union it could undermine the British, European and even global economies.

But speaking in an interview with the Italian television channel Sky TG24 on a visit to Italy, Pompeo said he was confident entrepreneurialism and innovation across Europe and the United States “will continue to permit everyone’s economy to continue to grow.”

Pompeo was asked in the interview whether the United States was afraid that Brexit, which U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration have supported, could undermine not just the British economy but the European economy and maybe the global economy as a whole.

“Well, we’ve all been looking at this for a long time. I’ve talked to my friends all across Europe. I’ve talked to folks in the United Kingdom. Everybody wants this to be over. And indeed, the British people voted for Brexit, and now it’s the United Kingdom’s charge to figure out how to do that,” Pompeo said. 

“We are prepared to do everything we can to make sure that the negative ramifications that you just described don’t happen,” he said.

“And so there’s certainly some risk that if Brexit proceeds there would be that, but I’m confident that entrepreneurial spirit and innovation all across Europe and the United States will continue to permit everyone’s economy to continue to grow.” Pompeo said.

Pompeo mentioned that Washington had discussed a potential free trade agreement with Britain if it left the EU and that the United States wanted to engage with all European countries.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a final Brexit offer to the European Union on Wednesday, pitching a possible compromise for a last-minute exit deal that was cautiously welcomed by the EU though the two sides still remain far apart.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom; editing by Grant McCool

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