CERNOBBIO, Italy (Reuters) - A referendum on Italy's membership of the euro currency would be held only as a "last resort" if Rome does not win any fiscal concessions from the European Union, a senior lawmaker from the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement said on Sunday.
Seeking to reassure an audience of bankers and business leaders at the Ambrosetti conference, Luigi Di Maio, widely tipped to be 5-Star's candidate for prime minister at a general election due by May 2018, said the referendum proposal was a "bargaining tool."
"Austerity policies have not worked, on monetary policy we deserve the credit for triggering a debate... this is why we raised the issue of a referendum on the euro, as a bargaining tool, as a last resort and a way out in case Mediterranean countries are not listened to," he said.
Reuters had access to the comments, which were made behind closed doors.
(Reporting by Giancarlo Navach, writing by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Isla Binnie)