Sunday, 21 October, 2018


UK Foreign Secretary to highlight Brexit as cause for 'hope not fear'

Boris Johnson will reject a trade deal that requires Britain to match EU regulations Boris Johnson will reject a trade deal that requires Britain to match EU regulationsFACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EPA
Conrad Doyle | 15 February, 2018, 14:45

The foreign secretary continues to argue that leaving the European Union should offer Britons hope, but his actions tell otherwise.

"Brexit need not be nationalist but can be internationalist; not an economic threat but a considerable opportunity", he said.

But Johnson insisted that the UK-EU negotiations were going well and that May was the "cure" for what he called "the current bout of Brexchosis".

Mr Johnson also suggested other benefits of regulatory divergence, including fisheries, banning the traffic in live animals, ending subsidies to rich landowners and cutting Value-Added Tax on fuel.

"There is no sensible reason why we should not be able to retire to Spain". Planning laws could be relaxed, he claimed, because the government could adapt environmental impact assessments.

Because that will mean that while a bespoke deal is still possible, it will be one that must fall within the parameters for worldwide trade that already exist - with a choice between excellent market access and the obligations that demands, or a lower-price and looser trading arrangement that will inevitably carry a larger economic cost.

"That would be intolerable, undemocratic and make it all but impossible for us to do serious trade deals". "But it would at least be our decision to do that".

"It is all about voluntarism", he said.

He also denied ever making "inflammatory" remarks about people who voted Remain.

Many business leaders, anxious to preserve cross-border supply chains, support the softer approach to Brexit.

"But I don't think we should commit as a matter of treaty that for ever and a day we should be forever locked in permanent congruence with the European Union".

Mr Johnson will add: "The British people should not have new laws affecting their everyday lives imposed from overseas, when they have no power to elect or remove those who make those laws". I do think sometimes the discourse does become a bit polemical.

He also questioned the economic benefits of being in the European Union single market.

Because while Johnson and Hammond, plus Gove and Rudd, can probably agree on what Britain should ask for, they will be less aligned if the European Union rejects any of those demands.

"Businesses are becoming increasingly anxious at the lack of detail coming from government, and this speech (by Johnson) does not make its plan any clearer", said Stephen Phipson, head of EEF, a manufacturing industry group.

Shaun Spiers, chair of the Greener UK coalition of NGOs and executive director of Green Alliance, said Johnson's speech would spark concerns for green businesses and campaigners.

Speaking at the conservative-leaning Policy Exchange think tank, Mr. Johnson acknowledged that many in Britain had still not accepted the result of the 2016 referendum but dismissed the possibility of a second vote which would further divide the country and hit out at figures trying to undermine the Brexit process.

In fact, there is broad agreement over May's push for an ambitious, bespoke trade deal like no other in the world, which will take a Canadian-style free trade agreement and add services critical for the United Kingdom economy. "As for the exhausted old gag about newts - we can do better than that".

Political commentators, who tend to have followers in the hundreds of thousands, led the conversation and were the most negative audience for Mr Johnson's speech with comments that attracted high levels of social engagement (retweets / likes).

"What they have to answer is how you continue to trade with your nearest and biggest partner, including a partner you share a border with through Ireland, while sailing off into the deep blue sea of entirely separate regulations", he said.

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