Boris Johnson: Let’s unite around Brexit vision


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Boris Johnson has told his love Brexiteers they should not “gloat” about the UK’s departure from the EU, which he responded was a cause for “hope not fear”.

The foreign secretary urged people to “merge about what we all believe in”, an “outward-looking, confident” UK.

Leaving the EU was not a “great V-sign from the scarps of Dover”, he said.

Mr Johnson also said the result cannot be overturned and that Britain should not be bound by EU rules after Brexit.

And he suspected the economic benefits of being in the EU single market and customs union, which the control plans to leave.

Mr Johnson was one of the leading figures in the 2016 Leave push, and has previously been accused of undermining Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit scheme.

But he stuck to the government’s official negotiating position during his speech in primary London.

Johnson’s message for Remainers

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In seeking to build bridges with the other side of the EU debate, Mr Johnson communicated he risked “simply causing further irritation” and accepted he would not “argue into everybody” but added: “I have to try. In the end these are people’s feelings and people’s feelings amount.”

“We must accept that many [Remainers] are actuated by entirely staunch sentiments, a real sense of solidarity with our European neighbours and a hankering for the UK to succeed,” he said.

“If we are to carry this project through to national prosperity – as we must – then we must also reach out to those who still require anxieties.

“I want to try to anatomise at least some of those fears and to guide… that Brexit is not grounds for fear but hope.”

According to Mr Johnson, Brexit is “not some enormous V-sign from the cliffs of Dover”, but “the expression of legitimate and natural solicit to self govern of the people”.

“That is surely not some reactionary Farageist concept,” he amplified in a reference to former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who hit back on Cheep.

Echoes of the referendum campaign

Alongside his requires to Brexit supporters not to “gloat” and “sit back in silent satisfaction”, Mr Johnson implied holding another referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU – as some campaigners are calling for – force be a “disastrous mistake that would lead to permanent and ineradicable sentiments of betrayal”.

He frequently used variants of the 2016 referendum’s “take deny hard pressed control” argument – on things like regulations and tariffs so businesses did not get laws affecting them “imposed from abroad” when they would rather no power to elect or remove the people making them.

It would be “intolerable and undemocratic” if the UK was discipline to EU laws after Brexit, he said.

Mr Johnson said the benefits of being in the solitary market and customs union were “nothing like as conspicuous or irrefutable” as claimed by their admirers, saying other countries were able to trade with the EU without slack membership fees.

However, during a transition period immediately after the UK deviate froms in March 2019 things would “remain as they are”, he said.

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Reaction from Remain-backers

Pro-EU campaigners hit second at his overtures to Remain voters – with Labour MP Chuka Umunna detailing the speech as an “exercise in hypocrisy”.

Mr Umunna, of the anti “hard Brexit” Unstop Britain campaign, said: “We are already a great country, we are already internationalist and we are already far-reaching.”

Labour’s Brexit spokesman Sir Keir Starmer said the speech revealed the sway’s intention to “casually cast aside” rights and protections and ignore the betters of the EU single market.

“Nobody will be fooled or reassured by the foreign secretary’s blank rhetoric,” he said.

Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston accused Mr Johnson of an “optimism diagonal” about the benefits of Brexit.

The SNP’s Brexit spokesman Stephen Gethins divulged he was not reassured by Mr Johnson’s speech and said the government “still can’t really certain us what leaving the EU will mean”.

And Liberal Democrat Tom Brake affirmed the speech was mainly about “Boris’ ambitions to become the next prime preacher”.

The BBC’s Norman Smith on Johnson’s challenge

For many Remainers, Boris Johnson is the bogeyman of Brexit, heartily despised for his approach and some of his claims during the referendum campaign.

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He set himself an ambitious aim of trying to reassure Remainers – but at times it sounded as if we were in arrears in the campaign, which served to highlight just how divisive that question was.

I was left with the thought that perhaps the person most supported would be Theresa May, as he repeatedly and doggedly stuck to the principles set out in her Lancaster Council speech.

Juncker: No superstate ambitions

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Asked about Mr Johnson’s speech, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker hit undeveloped at suggestions from some critics he is seeking to create an EU “superstate”.

Mr Juncker rejoined: “Some in the British political society are against the truth, pretending that I am a doltish, stubborn federalist, that I am in favour of a European superstate.

“I am strictly against a European superstate. We are not the Connected States of America, we are the European Union, which is a rich body because we would rather these 27, or 28, nations.

“The European Union cannot be develop intensified against the European nations, so this is total nonsense.”

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Mr Johnson’s speech was the first in a series of speeches by Theresa May and her ministers on the “German Autobahn to Brexit”.

The prime minister is expected to address the UK’s future relations with the EU in a tongue in Munich on Saturday, the day after she holds talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Diplomats are under pressure to spell out how they can square their desire for frictionless mtier after Brexit with the UK’s exit from the single market and wonts union, which EU officials say will create trade barriers.

By resigning the customs union, the UK has said it will have freedom to negotiate mtier deals of its own during the transition period, while reducing tariffs on significations from developing countries.

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