Boris Johnson has warned it would be “mad” to end up with a Brexit settlement that does not allow the UK to enjoy the “economic freedoms” of leaving the European Union.
The UK’s Foreign Secretary said “Brexit can be grounds for much more hope than fear”, and warned it would be a “disastrous mistake” to seek to thwart the result of the referendum. In a major speech in London, Mr Johnson said leaving the EU would mean we “stop paying huge sums” to Brussels and would be able to use some of the money to fund the NHS.
It would also mean being able to take back control of borders and laws, he insisted. In a message aimed at Tory colleagues and pressure groups arguing for close alignment with Brussels, Mr Johnson said: “We 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.”
The speech is the first of six being made by British Prime Minister Theresa May and senior UK Cabinet figures to set out the British Government’s roadmap for Brexit. The UK’s Brexit Secretary David Davis, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Mrs May’s deputy David Lidington are expected to speak in the coming weeks.
It follows criticism of the Prime Minister for failing to spell out Britain’s Brexit aims. Chancellor Philip Hammond, a prominent Remainer who is not on the list of set-piece speeches, is on a tour of European capitals aimed at building business and political ties.
The Chancellor used a piece in Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri to call for continued “close connections” with the EU and a deal that covers financial services. But he also urged the EU27 states to be clearer about their approach to the talks.
“We want to establish a new economic partnership with the EU that recognises our existing deep interconnectedness,” he said. But “both sides need to be clear about what they want from a future relationship”.
“The complaint from Brussels has been that the UK ‘hasn’t made up its mind what type of relationship it wants’ but in London, many feel that we have little signal of what future relationship the EU27 would like to have with a post-Brexit Britain.
“I don’t believe this can be a question only for British politicians and British voters to resolve.”