Boris Johnson urges remainers to recognise benefits of leaving EU
Boris Johnson Boris Johnson urges remainers to recognise benefits of leaving EU
Foreign secretary says Britons should still work overseas and go on âcheapo flights to stag dosâ
UK citizens after Brexit should have the freedom to retire to Spain, work overseas, go on âcheapo flights to stag dosâ and fall in love with foreigners just as easily as now, Boris Johnson has said, in a speech urging remainers to see the benefits of leaving the EU.
Johnson, whose speech at the Policy Exchange thinktank in London was billed as the foreig n secretaryâs vision for a âliberal Brexitâ, said he wanted to extend a hand to remain voters who he accepted were feeling a sense of loss.
Johnson said he had detected âa feeling of grief and alienationâ but said although some peopleâs fears had been unfounded, he had also seen âa hardening of the mood, a deepening of the angerâ, adding: âWe must also reach out to those who still have anxieties.âBrexit speech: Boris Johnson refuses to rule out resignation â" politics live Read more
Johnson said he believed a second referendum would cause further division â" though he did not say another vote would necessarily be won by the leave campaign.
âI say in all candour that if there were to be a second vote I believe that we would simply have another year of wrangling and turmoil and feuding in which the whole country would lose,â he said. âSo letâs not go there.â
He said he wanted to distance the governmentâs v ision for Brexit from âsome reactionary Faragiste conceptâ, in reference to the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
Johnson said the UK would seek âthe right deal on aviation and on visa-free travelâ, which he said would result in the expansion of British exchanges and travel to the EU.
âWe will continue ever more intensively to go on cheapo flights to stag parties in ancient cities, meet interesting people, fall in love, struggle amiably to learn the European languages whose decline has been a paradoxical feature of EU membership,â he said.
âThere is no sensible reason why we should not be able to retire to Spain, as indeed we did long before Spain joined the EU, or anywhere else.â
However, Johnson said he also wanted to lay out a case for future divergence from the EU. âWe would be mad to go through this process of extrication from the EU, and not to take advantage of the economic freedoms it will bring,â he said.
âIt is only by taking back control of our laws that UK firms and entrepreneurs will have the freedom to innovate, without the risk of having to comply with some directive devised by Brussels, at the urgings of some lobby group, with the aim of holding back a UK competitor.â
He said the UK government would be irresponsible if it committed to having regulatory alignment in emerging sectors such as artificial intelligence or robotics or bioscience, where he said the UK âmay want to do things differentlyâ.
âIn a global marketplace, where we are trading in products that hadnât been conceived even five years ago, serving markets that were poverty stricken only 20 years ago, it seems extraordinary that the UK should remain lashed to the minute prescriptions of a regional trade bloc,â he said.
Johnson also suggested other benefits of regulatory divergence, including fisheries, banning the transport of live animals, ending subsidies to rich landowners and cutting VAT on fuel. Planning laws could be relaxed, he claimed, because the government could adapt environmental impact assessments.
Stem cell technology and financial services could also benefit, he said. âIt may be that we will need a regulatory framework, scrupulous and moral, but not afraid of the new. The same point can be made of innovative financial services instruments, where the FCA already leads the way.â
Johnson, one of the leading figures of the leave campaign before the referendum, has borne much of the public anger from remain voters, especially because of the campaignâs promise for increased spending on the NHS, which the foreign secretary has made clear he still believes could happen.
He said he recognised that as the figurehead to make the case for a liberal vision of Brexit, saying: âI run the risk of simply causing further irritation.â However, he hinted he believed the government had not adequately addressed the emotional attachment an d identity crisis among remain voters which was fuelling anger and demands for a second referendum.
âI must take that risk because it is this governmentâs duty to advocate and explain the mission on which we are now engaged,â he said.
âIt has become absolutely clear to me that we cannot take the argument for granted. We cannot expect the case to make itself. That was the mistake of the pro-EU elite when they won the last referendum in 1975.â
Later during questions from reporters, Johnson said he believed Theresa May was also attempting to reach out to remain voters. âI think the prime ministerâs language, when Iâve heard her, has been always irenic and she understands the task we have; we have to bring people along with this project,â he said.
âI accept that, this morning, Iâm not going to bring along everybody. But Iâve got to try, Iâve got to make the effort. Because, in the end, these are peopleâs feelings and peopleâs feel ings matter.â
- Boris Johnson
- Foreign policy
- European Union
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