UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said he wants to reach out to Remain voters who still have concerns about Brexit. Johnson said a second Brexit vote would result in another year of "wrangling and turmoil."
UK Foreign Secretary and Brexit champion Boris Johnson on Wednesday said he wanted to "reach out to those who still have Brexit anxieties" and show them that "these fears can be allayed."
Johnson made the comments during the first of a series of high-profile speeches on Britain's departure from the EU at UK think tank the Policy Exchange.
On those who voted to Remain: "I say to my remaining Remainer friends: More people voted for Brexit than have ever voted for anything in this country and if we had another vote it would be another year of wrangling and turmoil — let's not go there."
On appealing to Remain voters: "We must reach out to those who still have anxieties — I want to show that these fears can be allayed, that Brexit can be grounds for much more hope than fear ... It's not good enough for us to say to Remainers, 'You lost, get over it,' because the vast majority were motivated by entirely noble sentiments."
On leaving the EU: "Brexit is about re-engaging this country with its global identity — I refuse to accept the accusation that it is some kind of great spasm of bad manners."
On the EU: "The trouble with the EU is for all its idealism and for all the good intentions of those who run its institutions, there is no demos — we in the UK have never felt part of a European demos ... Our commitment to the defense of Europe is unconditional and immovable although we represent 13 percent of the EU population, we represent 20 percent defense spending."
On migration: "We need talented people to come and make their lives in this country. We must remain a magnet for ambition and drive but need to ask ourselves hard questions about the impact of 20 years of immigration of low skilled workers."
On trade: "In a global marketplace, it seems extraordinary that the UK should remain lashed to a tiny trade bloc without freedom to change the rules. When it comes to EU standards for washing machines or hairdryers, it may well make sense for us to remain in alignment ... but I don't think we should necessarily commit to that forever."
Juncker against a 'European super-state'
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday said he did not want to build a "European super-state."
He made the comment in response to Brexit supporters who had criticized him over what they see as his federalist views.
"I am strictly against a European super-state," Juncker told a news conference as Johnson delivered his speech, adding that the notion was "total nonsense."
Speech was 'hypocritical'
Prior to Johnson's speech, Chuka Umunna, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour party, described the speech, excerpts of which the Foreign Office released on Tuesday, as "hypocrisy of the highest order."
In a statement issued by the pro-EU campaign group Open Britain, Umunna said, "Boris Johnson is totally unqualified to preach about the perils of fear and betrayal when he engaged in disgraceful scaremongering."
The UK's Guardian newspaper quoted Labour peer Andrew Adonis as saying that people were trying to stop Brexit because they had been lied to by the likes of Johnson.
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"Johnson lied to the British people about Brexit and its benefits two years ago, including £350m a week for the NHS on the side of his bus,” Adonis said, referring to the Brexit campaign bus emblazoned with a slogan promising that EU funds would instead go towards the health service, a promise that was taken back almost immediately after the vote.
"The greatest national success now would be to stop Brexit, eject Johnson from office, and install a government determined to promote trade, prosperity and security with our European partners – and not undermine them, as he is doing.”
law/sms (AFP, Reuters)