Johnson sets out his Brexit vision
Reporter BORIS Johnson has insisted he is “all behind Theresa for a glorious Brexit” after setting out a 4,000-word vision of Britain’s future outside the European Union that has been viewed as a challenge to her leadership.
The Foreign Secretary revived the widely-criticised claim quitting the EU could boost NHS coffers by £350m a week and warned against paying for access to EU markets in the future.
But the detailed assessment of life after March 2019 was released just six days before Mrs May sets out her Brexit blueprint in a speech in Florence, fuelling speculation about Mr Johnson’s leadership ambitions.
However, in a tweet linked to his article, Mr Johnson insisted he was “looking forward to PM’s Florence speech”. “All behind Theresa for a glorious Brexit,” he added.
Writing for the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson suggested continued membership of the single market and customs union would make a “complete mockery” of the referendum result.
He insisted Brexit would allow the UK to “be the greatest country on earth” and “our destiny will be in our own hands”.
The Leave campaign’s most eyecatching pledge during the referendum campaign was a claim that ending Britain’s contributions to the EU would free up an extra £350m a week that could be spent on the NHS.
But it was widely derided in the weeks after the result, and Mr Johnson and other campaigners appeared to distance themselves from the promise.
In the article for the Telegraph, however, he said the UK would “roughly” be £350m better off and it would be a “fine thing” if a lot of it went on the health service.
He wrote: “Once we have settled our accounts, we will take back control of roughly £350m per week. It would be a fine thing as many of us have pointed out if a lot of that money went on the NHS, provided we use that cash injection to modernise and make the most of new technology.”
The Foreign Secretary did not mention plans for a transition period after Britain leaves the bloc and argued there is no need to pay for market access. “We would not expect to pay for access to their markets any more than they would expect to pay for access to ours,” he said.
Labour’s Chuka Umunna, a leading supporter of Open Britain, which is campaigning for continued single market membership, said: “The £350m a week promise was a fib, and there is absolutely no chance of it being delivered.
Labour said the article exposed the divisions in Mrs May’s top team. A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said: “Boris Johnson has laid bare the conflicts at the heart of Theresa May’s Government over Brexit and cut the ground from beneath the Prime Minister’s authority.” Foreign secretary Boris Johnson has doubled down on his claim leaving EU will free up £350m for the NHS