Brexit am­bas­sador Boris John­son frus­trates EU lead­ers

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

LON­DON (AP): FOR­EIGN SEC­RE­TARY Boris John­son is Bri­tain’s top diplo­mat tasked with win­ning in­ter­na­tional friends as the coun­try pre­pares its exit from the Euro­pean Union (EU).

So far, that is turn­ing into mis­sion im­pos­si­ble, as EU lead­ers ac­cuse him of of­fer­ing in­sub­stan­tial and un­re­al­is­tic visions of the UK’s fu­ture out­side the 28-na­tion bloc.

The lat­est critic is Dutch Fi­nance Min­is­ter Jeroen Di­js­sel­bloem, who told the BBC on Tues­day that John­son “is of­fer­ing to the Bri­tish peo­ple op­tions that are re­ally not avail­able.

“There is no win-win sit­u­a­tion” with Brexit, Di­js­sel­bloem said. “It is go­ing to be a loselose sit­u­a­tion.”

John­son is one of Bri­tain’s best-known politi­cians, fa­mous at home and abroad for his tou­sled hair, rum­pled ap­pear­ance and florid speeches stud­ded with Latin phrases. A leader of the vic­to­ri­ous ‘Leave’ cam­paign in Bri­tain’s EU mem­ber­ship ref­er­en­dum, he was named for­eign sec­re­tary when Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May took of­fice in July.

For the last few months, he has been tour­ing EU cap­i­tals ahead of for­mal exit talks, ex­pected to start next year.

LEAV­ING CUS­TOMS UNION

Bri­tish of­fi­cials have been re­luc­tant to pro­vide de­tails of what deal they hope to strike with the bloc. But John­son was quoted this week by the Czech news­pa­per Hospo­darske Noviny as say­ing the UK would likely have to leave the EU cus­toms union, while re­tain­ing ac­cess to the bloc’s sin­gle mar­ket in goods and ser­vices.

The cus­toms union and the sin­gle mar­ket are both pil­lars of the EU’s model of tar­iff-free trade within its bloc of 500 mil­lion peo­ple. Mem­bers of the cus­toms union trade tar­iff-free, but im­pose com­mon levies on im­ports from out­side the union.

Di­js­sel­bloem — who also heads the group of 19 coun­tries Boris John­son

who use the com­mon euro cur­rency — said John­son “is say­ing things that are in­tel­lec­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble, po­lit­i­cally un­avail­able.

“To say, ‘We could be in­side the in­ter­nal mar­ket, keep full ac­cess to the in­ter­nal mar­ket, but be out­side the cus­toms union’ — this is just im­pos­si­ble, it doesn’t exist,” Di­js­sel­bloem told the BBC’s ‘News­night’ pro­gramme.

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