27th Sep 2016

UK 'won't leave' Europe, Boris Johnson said

  • Johnson: "There is a massive difference between leaving the EU and our relations with Europe" (Photo: London Gov)

Leaving the EU doesn't mean leaving Europe, Britain’s new foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said while taking office on Thursday (14 July).

“There is a massive difference between leaving the EU and our relations with Europe, which if anything I think are going to be intensified and built up at an intergovernmental level," said Johnson, a leader in the Brexit campaign before the 23 June referendum.

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Speaking outside the foreign office, he said he wanted to reshape "Britain's global profile and identity as a great global player."

A "map of all the countries Boris Johnson has offended" that went viral on social networks shows how that could prove difficult.

Johnson is known for saying that Africans are "flag-waving piccaninnies" and have "watermelon smiles".

He also said that US democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton looked like "a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital" and wrote a poem about Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan having sex with a goat.

On Thursday, German diplomacy chief Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that Johnson was "irresponsible" and that his behaviour after the Brexit vote was "outrageous".

His French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault said that Johnson "told a lot of lies to the British people".

Also on Thursday, Johnson tried to woo French people living in London with a speech at the French embassy for Bastille Day.

He tried to compare the Brexit vote to the French revolution, saying that “the sans-culottes popular uprising was against a stifling bureaucratic ancient regime whose democratic credentials had become very far from obvious.”

“We can all agree vox populi is vox Dei, in other words the people then, as now, must be respected," he said.

He said that upcoming Brexit talks between the UK and the EU would make "a certain amount of plaster coming off the ceiling of the chancelleries of Europe since it was not the result they were expecting".

He concluded his speech wishing "a long and happy partnership" between the UK and France, with "political, cultural, psychological and economic union at intergovernmental level".

Referring in French to the "ever closer union" clause that the UK wanted to drop from the EU treaty, he said this Franco-British union should be "toujours plus étroite”.

He was welcomed by louder boos than claps.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Brexit: preparing for a bitter divorce

Conservatives Brexiteers and Labour leadership are increasingly leaning away from the Norwegian-style deal with the EU, towards a UK-specific arrangement.

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