Western Mail - - FRONT PAGE - David Hughes news­desk@waleson­

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 pro­tec- tions, 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”. He in­sisted that Brexit would not make the UK more “in­su­lar” and Bri­tain would re­main a “mag­net” for tal­ented mi­grants.

But stress­ing the abil­ity to con­trol the UK’s borders, he said “we need to ask our­selves some hard ques­tions about the im­pact of 20 years of un­con­trolled im­mi­gra­tion by low-skilled, low-wage work­ers”.

Mr John­son’s speech, aimed at

reach­ing out to Re­main sup­port­ers, did lit­tle to win over Tory crit­ics.

Sarah Wol­las­ton said Mr John­son’s up­beat speech did not ad­dress the “se­ri­ous prac­ti­cal dif­fi­cul­ties” posed by Brexit.

For­mer min­is­ter Anna Soubry said he “fails to un­der­stand the very real con­cerns of British busi­ness”.

The speech is the first of six be­ing made by the Prime Min­is­ter and se­nior Cabi­net fig­ures to set out the Gov­ern­ment’s road map for Brexit.

Brexit Sec­re­tary David Davis, In­ter­na­tional Trade Sec­re­tary Liam Fox and Mrs May’s deputy David Lid­ing­ton are ex­pected to speak in the com­ing weeks. It fol­lows crit­i­cism of the Prime Min­is­ter for fail­ing to spell out Bri­tain’s Brexit aims.

The Chan­cel­lor, a prom­i­nent Re­mainer who is not on the list of set piece speeches, is on a tour of Euro­pean cap­i­tals aimed at build­ing busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal ties.

The Chan­cel­lor used a piece in Swedish news­pa­per Da­gens In­dus­tri to call for con­tin­ued “close con­nec­tions” with the EU and a deal that cov­ers fi­nan­cial ser­vices.

But he also urged the EU27 states to be clearer about their ap­proach to the talks.

He said: “The com­plaint from Brus­sels has been that the UK ‘hasn’t made up its mind what type of re­la­tion­ship it wants’, but in Lon­don, many feel that we have lit­tle sig­nal of what fu­ture re­la­tion­ship the EU27 would like to have with a post-Brexit Bri­tain.

“I don’t be­lieve this can be a ques­tion only for British politi­cians and British vot­ers to re­solve.”

In a sign of the EU27’s frus­tra­tions, a spokesman for Ger­man chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel said: “It’s im­por­tant for us that Bri­tain con­cre­tise its plans ... time is run­ning out.”

> For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son wipes sweat from his brow as he de­liv­ers his speech – the first of sev­eral from Cabi­net min­is­ters over the com­ing days – as part of the gov­ern­ment’s road map on Brexit

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.