24th Mar 2018

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica

EU leaders at a Brussels summit demand social networks and digital platforms guarantee transparency and privacy. Their call comes amid growing backlash against Facebook and Cambridge Analytica over voter manipulation.

'Decisive step' in Brexit ahead of EU summit

The UK and the EU have reached a legal agreement on citizens' rights and the financial settlement, but with still little progress on the future of the Irish border.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections