Pro-Brexit demonstrators holding placards stand outside the Houses of Parliament in London, U.K. (Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

No-Deal Brexit Would Be Like an ‘Atomic Bomb,’ Maltese Minister Says

(Bloomberg) -- Britain crashing out of the European Union without a deal would be like an “atomic bomb for everybody,” Maltese Finance Minister Edward Scicluna said as the clock ticks down toward Brexit day on March 29.

“It’s something that everybody dreads,” Scicluna said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Brussels where euro-area finance ministers met on Monday. “Nobody wants to go there.”

With the U.K.’s scheduled departure from the European Union less than seven weeks away, officials and businesses across the continent are increasingly worried about the potential economic hit from a no-deal Brexit. The European Commission said last week that the “large uncertainty” surrounding Britain’s departure is one of the factors clouding the euro area’s outlook as the EU executive slashed its forecasts for this year.

The commission cut its 2019 growth forecasts for all the major euro-zone economies, with Italy’s outlook taking the biggest downward revision. Growth in Italy is seen slowing to 0.2 percent -- by far the weakest in the 19-nation currency bloc. The lowered outlook came two months after officials in Rome and the EU reached a compromise over Italy’s deficit target.

Scicluna said the Italian government is “learning and we hope they learn faster for everybody’s sake.” Of the “well-meaning policies” that the government has, “hopefully the good parts remain while the bad parts are thrown overboard,” he said.

While euro-area economies are not expanding as much as “we would have liked, we hope that the negative will not be as deep and bad as it could be,” Scicluna said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.