Tuesday

23rd Apr 2019

Key UK ministers emphasise 'bright side' of Brexit

  • Johnson and other leading Tories see Brexit as an opportunity for Britian (Photo: UK in Japan FCO)

Key pro-Brexit UK cabinet members said Britain should look at its withdrawal from the EU as an opportunity and that the UK would be a more open country than as part of the bloc.

Trade minister Liam Fox, Brexit minister David Davis and foreign minister Boris Johnson, all speaking at the Conservative Party's conference on Tuesday (3 October) in Manchester, attempted to shake up their fellow Tories as Brexit talks are move at a slow pace without a sign of a breakthrough.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The ministers gave their optimism-boosting speeches just as the European Parliament in Strasbourg adopted a resolution stating that Brexit negotiations have not reached "sufficient progress" to be able to move onto trade talks.

Earlier in the day MEPs said cabinet divisions are hampering the UK's Brexit negotiations.

Manfred Weber, the group leader of the largest group in the EP, the People's Party, even called for the sacking of Johnson, who has been seen as undermining prime minister Theresa May since she gave her Brexit strategy speech in Florence two weeks ago.

Johnson told the conference that the UK government is united behind "every syllable" of May's Florence speech on Brexit, trying to cool off criticism of him challenging May's leadership.

May said at the time that the UK is committed to honouring its commitments made as an EU member, and that Brexit would not require EU countries to pay more or receive less from the EU budget – a significant statement still awaiting detailed clarification by EU negotiators.

May has also asked for a transition period after Brexit that could last for two years. That means actual Brexit might only come in 2021, not on the date of withdrawal in 2019.

Johnson nevertheless sounded upbeat by Britain's European prospects.

"We can build a deep and special partnership through free trade [with Europe]," Johnson said.

"We will be no less European," Johnson said, adding: "We are one of the quintessential European nations."

Johnson called on party members to seize the opportunity of Brexit.

Not a 'plague of boils'

"It is time to stop treating the referendum result as though it were a plague of boils or a murrain on our cattle or an inexplicable aberration by 17.4m people. It is time to be bold, and to seize the opportunities and there is no country better-placed than Britain," he told cheering Tories.

Johnson said Britain has an chance to become truly global.

"After Brexit that is what our partners are going to get as this country is freed from endlessly trying to block things in Brussels committee rooms. Freed to stop being negative and to start being positive about what we believe in – including free trade," he said.

Brexit negotiator Davis also told the conference to "keep their eyes on the prize" that is offered by the UK leaving the bloc.

"An opportunity to make sure that all the decisions about the future of this country are taken by our parliament, our courts, our institutions," he said, describing Brexit.

"Decisions about how to spend our taxes - made here in Britain. Decisions about who comes into the country - made here in Britain. All our laws - made here in Britain," he added.

Davis said Brexit will give a chance for Britain to be more open to the world.

"Now that we are leaving the European Union, it allows us to be more international, not less," he said.

Trade minister Liam Fox told the audience Britain has already begun discussions "about the future relationship" with the United States, Australia and New Zealand, and have reached out to more than a dozen countries on trade.

A new round of Brexit talks will begin next Monday in Brussels.

Progress made in Brexit talks, but not enough

Fourth round of Brexit talks saw cooperative tone in a shift after May's speech, but there serious differences on financial commitments and EU court remained.

Barnier: UK risks undermining trust in Brexit talks

A day before UK PM Theresa May sets out her Brexit strategy in Florence, top EU negotiator Michel Barnier told lawmakers in Rome: there can be no transitional deal for the UK without a withdrawal agreement.

EU hopes for clarity on Brexit payments

May to give first major speech on Brexit since notifying EU that the UK was leaving. Negotiations have stalled, but she could revive them with a financial offer.

Brexit talks enter pre-summit round

Brexit talks resume on Monday, but too little progress on issues such as citizens' rights, mean EU leaders unlikely to launch trade negotiations this month.

Feature

'Swexit' off menu at election for first time in 24 years

The Swedish Left Party have abandoned euroscepticism to campaign on climate change - whilst the hard-right Sweden Democrats spy possibilities of a link up with Matteo Salvini of Italy and France's Marine Le Pen.

Opinion

Brexit vs Grexit: The six stages of losing to the EU

Theresa May's venture seems very similar to the attempt by Alexis Tsipras in 2015 to persuade Brussels to accept his terms for the bail out - a huge negotiation failure, presented to the public as the best possible deal.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us