Boris John­son in­sists Bri­tain ‘still part of Europe’

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

LON­DON—Top Brexit cam­paigner Boris John­son sought Mon­day to build bridges with Europe and with de­feated Bri­tons who voted to re­main in the Euro­pean Union (EU) in last week’s his­toric ref­er­en­dum.

John­son, a for­mer Lon­don mayor now a favourite to suc­ceed out­go­ing Con­ser­va­tive Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, said there would be an “in­ten­si­fy­ing” of co­op­er­a­tion with Europe de­spite the vote to quit the EU.

“I can­not stress too much that Bri­tain is part of Europe,” John­son wrote in his reg­u­lar col­umn in the Daily Tele­graph news­pa­per.

He also said there was no need to rush Bri­tain’s exit from the EU, and also played down the prospect of Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence.

“The only change - and it will not come in any great rush - is that the UK will ex­tri­cate it­self from the EU’s ex­tra­or­di­nary and opaque sys­tem of leg­is­la­tion,” he wrote.

“EU ci­ti­zens liv­ing in this country will have their rights fully pro­tected, and the same goes for Bri­tish ci­ti­zens liv­ing in the EU,” he said.

“Bri­tish peo­ple will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and set­tle down.”

Bri­tons voted by 52 per cent to 48pc in favour of leav­ing the Euro­pean Union in a vote that ex­posed deep di­vi­sions in the country and sent shock­waves through the world.

But John­son said Bri­tain, the first country in the 28-mem­ber bloc to vote to leave, would re­tain close ties with Europe.

“There will still be in­tense and in­ten­si­fy­ing Euro­pean co­op­er­a­tion and part­ner­ship in a huge num­ber of fields: the arts, the sciences, the uni­ver­si­ties, and on im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment,” he said.

John­son also urged Brexit sup­port­ers to “build bridges” with Bri­tons who had sup­ported stay­ing. “They are our neigh­bours, brothers and sis­ters who did what they pas­sion­ately be­lieve was right.

“We must reach out, we must heal, we must build bridges - be­cause it is clear that some have feel­ings of dis­may, and of loss, and con­fu­sion,” he wrote.

But he added that the “cli­mate of ap­pre­hen­sion” was caused by ex­ag­ger­ated warn­ings dur­ing the cam­paign.

“At home and abroad, the neg­a­tive con­se­quences are be­ing wildly over­done, and the up­side is be­ing ig­nored,” he said.

He also re­acted to Scot­tish First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon’s state­ment that a new in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum within two years was now “highly likely” be­cause most Scots had voted to stay in the EU.

“We had one Scot­land ref­er­en­dum in 2014, and I do not de­tect any real ap­petite to have an­other one soon.”

“It goes with­out say­ing that we are much bet­ter to­gether in forg­ing a new and bet­ter re­la­tion­ship with the EU - based on free trade and part­ner­ship, rather than a fed­eral sys­tem,” he said.—AFP

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