Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has launched an attack on the European Union in a keynote speech on Brexit. Johnson criticised the negative manner in which Brexit was being cast and said that it could be a “national success”.
Johnson said in the speech:
“If we get the right deal on aviation and on visa-free travel – both of which are in our mutual interest – this expansion of UK tourism will continue, not just beyond the EU, but within the EU itself; and we will continue to go on cheapo flights to stag parties in ancient cities where we will, I’m sure, receive a warm welcome and meet interesting people, fall in love, struggle amiably to learn the European languages – knowledge of which, by the way, has suffered a paradoxical decline during our membership of the EU”.
Keir Starmer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, said in a statement:
“This speech underlined the Government’s real intentions; a Brexit of deregulation, where rights and protections are casually cast aside and where the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union are ignored. Nobody will be fooled or reassured by the Foreign Secretary’s empty rhetoric. His insistence on deregulating our economy is the opposite of what businesses and trade unions want to hear. Instead of building the consensus we need, the Government’s approach will only further divide the country and put jobs, rights and living standards at risk”.
Tom Brake, the Brexit spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said:
“If this speech was supposed to offer an olive branch to Remainers, Boris must have picked up the other version. A clear majority of Remain and Leave voters oppose the damaging hard Brexit Boris so vigorously advocates. They do not want job cuts triggered by tougher trading conditions with our largest export market or life-threatening uncertainty at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Boris’s antipathy towards the common rules and standards which apply within the EU, and to trade within the EU, is in stark contrast to Brexiters head-long rush to adopt common standards with the US which would require the UK to accept chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-fed beef, GMO products and potentially open up the NHS to US private health companies.
If Boris is seeking to establish himself as the standard bearer of liberalism, he should dump plans to come out of the Single Market and Customs Union and campaign to stay in the world’s largest free trade area. He could also bolster his liberal credentials by giving people a vote on the deal and an exit from Brexit”.