FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Thursday London's financial sector was a "massive asset" to the whole of Europe and should not be weakened by Britain's decision to leave the European Union.
At a news conference with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni, Johnson was asked if Britain should back calls from banks for a transitional arrangement to safeguard the City given that the EU separation negotiations were expect to be lengthy.
"I think that there is every reason to be optimistic about these talks," said Johnson, who campaigned for Brexit.
- PHOTOS: New art and old relics at Mickey Mouse's NYC gallery 25 Pictures
- PHOTOS: See Yes on 3 supporters react to historic transgender rights Question 3 win 11 Pictures
- PHOTOS: A look back at Queen performing in the 1970s and 1980s 22 Pictures
- All of these celebrities have had their nudes leaked 35 Pictures
- PHOTOS: A look at Idris Elba's style through the years 20 Pictures
- PHOTOS: Heidi Klum's annual Halloween party and other amazing celebrity costumes 17 Pictures
- These are the spookiest cities per capita in the U.S. 5 Pictures
- Food Network star talks pumpkin carving 1 Pictures
- Who is Alexander Edwards, Amber Rose's new boyfriend? 9 Pictures
- Is Cardi B pregnant again? This tweet has people guessing 6 Pictures
- Natural Museum's best wildlife photos of the year 5 Pictures
"London's financial services sector is a massive asset for the whole of the EU. It's a great benefit to the Italian economy as well as the UK economy," he said.
"I don't think anybody would want to see any detriment to that industry (London's financial services) here in Italy any more than we in Britain."
Johnson noted that Britons drank about 300 million liters a year of Italian prosecco wine.
"No one would want to see any tariffs on prosecco from Italy. We are the biggest drinkers of Italian wine in Europe. No one would want to see any tariffs on Italian wine any more, I think, than the Italian government would want to see any detriment to the interests of the City of London," he said.
Britons voted in a June referendum to leave the EU but new Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will not start the formal withdrawal proceedings this year.
May's aides suggest her plan is to invoke Article 50 of the EU's Lisbon Treaty, which triggers the exit process, early in 2017.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Andrew Roche)