Italy reacts to Brexit

Italy's leaders comment in wake of Brexit referendum.

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi has responded to the United Kingdom's historic decision to leave the European Union by tweeting: "We have to change to make [Europe] more human and more just. But Europe is our home, it is our future."

Italian interior minister Angelino Alfano described 24 June as a "terrible day" for Europe but said the UK referendum result could be "an opportunity for its revival." Italy's finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan said the Brexit vote, which triggered the resignation of British premier David Cameron, risked causing a "domino effect" in Europe.

Pope Francis said the result reflected the “will of the people” and that Europe now shoulders a “great responsibility” to ensure the well being of people in the UK as well as the peaceful coexistence of the entire European continent.

News of Brexit was welcomed by Matteo Salvini, the leader of the right-wing anti-immigrant Lega Nord, who tweeted a message thanking the "courage" of British voters, adding: "Now it's our turn." The result was also hailed by the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle which repeated its calls for a similar referendum in Italy.

The news follows last month's decision by the British supreme court to quash an appeal by two British ex-pats to overturn a law barring Britons who have lived abroad for more than 15 years from voting in British elections. It is estimated that this meant about two million British citizens were unable to vote in the referendum.

The legal case was taken by 95-year-old Italian resident Harry Shindler MBE, a veteran of the Battle of Anzio and the liberation of Rome in world war two, who described the Brexit result to local media as a "disaster for Great Britain."