UK must not stay locked to EU rules, says John­son

For­eign sec­re­tary hopes Bri­tain will take ad­van­tage of new ‘free­doms’

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS POLITICS - David hughes

Boris John­son has warned it would be “mad” to end up with a Brexit set­tle­ment that does not al­low the UK to en­joy the “eco­nomic free­doms” of leaving the Euro­pean Union.

Sig­nalling the need to diverge from EU rules after leaving the bloc, Mr John­son in­sisted that the UK should not re­main locked into align­ment with Brus­sels.

In the lat­est salvo in a Cabi­net bat­tle over how closely the UK should re­main tied to the EU after leaving, Mr John­son said Bri­tain should not be “lashed to the minute pre­scrip­tions” of a bloc com­pris­ing just 6% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion.

Mr John­son’s com­ments at a speech in Lon­don are in stark con­trast to Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond’s hope that the UK would only diverge “very mod­estly” from the EU.

With the Cabi­net set to make a fi­nal de­ci­sion on its ap­proach, Mr John­son re­fused to guar­an­tee he would not quit this year if there was a plan for close align­ment.

“We are all very lucky to serve and I’m cer­tainly one of those,” he said.

The UK has com­mit­ted to leave the sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union, but the EU could im­pose con­di­tions to closely fol­low rules as part of the com­pre­hen­sive deal sought by Theresa May.

Set­ting out his ap­proach, Mr John­son said: “We would be mad to go through this process of ex­tri­ca­tion from the EU and not to take ad­van­tage of the eco­nomic free­doms it will bring.”

By leaving the EU “we will be able, if we so choose, to fish our own fish, to ban the traf­fic in live an­i­mals and pay­ments to some of the rich­est landown­ers in Bri­tain”.

There would be free­dom to cut VAT on fuel, “sim­plify plan­ning and speed up pub­lic pro­cure­ment”.

In a sign that there could be changes to en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions, Mr John­son said “we might de­cide that it was in­deed ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary for ev­ery en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact assess­ment to mon­i­tor two life cy­cles of the snail and build spe­cial swim­ming pools for newts” but “it would at least be our de­ci­sion”.

Mr John­son said the is­sue was about “who de­cides” and “it may very well make sense” to re­main in align­ment with EU stan­dards on some prod­ucts – but that com­mit­ment should not be writ­ten in to the Brexit deal.

“I don’t think we should nec­es­sar­ily com­mit, as a mat­ter of treaty, that for­ever and a day we are go­ing to re­main locked into per­ma­nent con­gru­ence with the EU,” he said.

In an effort to ad­dress con­cerns about the po­ten­tial hit to trade, Mr John­son said: “To those who worry about com­ing out of the cus­toms union or the sin­gle mar­ket – please bear in mind that the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of mem­ber­ship are noth­ing like as con­spic­u­ous or ir­refutable as is some­times claimed.”

Out­side the EU the UK will be able to do “se­ri­ous free trade deals” with grow­ing economies around the world.

Mr John­son re­jected ar­gu­ments for a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum and warned that it would be a “dis­as­trous mis­take” to seek to thwart Brexit.

In a mes­sage to Re­main sup­port­ers, the Brexit-back­ing min­is­ter said leaving the EU could be “grounds for much more hope than fear”.

Pic­ture: PA.

Boris John­son de­liv­ers a speech at the Pol­icy Ex­change, Lon­don, as part of the UK Gov­ern­ment’s “road map” on Brexit.

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