Boris Johnson has signalled that he believes he is winning the battle in Cabinet over Britain’s approach to EU regulations after Brexit.
The Foreign Secretary is at the head of a group of senior ministers pushing for freedom to tear up Brussels red tape in the hope of boosting the UK’s trade opportunities around the world, while others including Chancellor Philip Hammond are understood to be wary of taking steps which might limit access to the single market.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has not said publicly which side she will come down on, but Mr Johnson said he believed his argument was “gaining ground”.
The US in particular has made clear that signing up to observe EU regulations on issues like data protection, animal welfare and food standards after Brexit could limit the kind of free trade deal available to the UK.
US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross warned during a recent visit to London that continued regulatory alignments could act as “land mines” to a deal.
Speaking during a visit to Moscow, Mr Johnson told reporters: “I think that the argument is gaining ground that it would be madness to leave the EU without taking back control of our regulatory freedoms.”
Mr Johnson said that during recent talks with the Polish government he had heard their concerns over Brussels over-regulation in growth areas like bulk data, technology, artificial intelligence and bioscience.
He added that after Brexit, “we just may want to do things differently”.
Mr Johnson said: “The world needs to move to global standards. I think the idea of regional blocs with very densely integrated legal systems – the EU is the only example of such a creation in the world at the moment.
“I think people want to see a much freer approach with global standards and individuals being able to trade more freely.
“I think that argument is gaining ground.”