Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has demanded a short ‘transition period’ after the UK leaves the European Union (EU) in 2019, setting himself against the prime minister who wants to keep Britain tied to the bloc for years.
Speaking at the Foreign Office launch of Institute for Free Trade think tank, Mr. Johnson demanded the two-year period announced by Theresa May last week be kept short so the UK can begin to finally strike its own free trade deals.
“You can imagine what our brilliant companies are able to do… when they are finally – and let’s hope the date is soon upon us without too long a transition period – when they are finally unbound, unshackled,” Mr. Johnson told an audience of foreign ambassadors and business leaders.
According to recordings published by Brexit Central, he added: “It is only now, after 44 years, that we’re finally taking back control of our tariffs… It is only now, that we are able to do free trade deals with the distinguished ambassadors gathered here today.”
Slamming the EU for erecting trade barriers, he continued: “It is only now that the UK is able to resume its historic function as the world’s leading campaigner and agitator for free trade.”
During her Brexit speech on the 22nd of September in Florence, Italy, Mrs. May confirmed she had been persuaded that the UK should remain tied to EU institutions such as the Customs Union after Brexit for “around two years”.
She said Single Market access “should continue on current terms” and that the framework for this “strictly time-limited period” must be “the current structure of EU rules and regulations”.
Michael Gove and the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox were also present to endorse the new institute, which Mr. Fox said showed the moral imperative to lower trade barriers.“We may think the benefits of free trade are self-evident but we need to sell benefits to the public,” said Mr. Fox.
“We have to go beyond the economics into the moral argument. As we leave the EU and take our independent seat at the WTO we will champion free trade.”
The new institute has been launched by Tory MEP Daniel Hannan, who plotted with former Tory MP Douglas Carswell to infiltrate UKIP and supposedly “neutralise” the Eurosceptic party during the referendum campaign.
Mr. Hannan has also said that free movement of labour might not end after Brexit and insisted that no Brexit supporters “had tried to put a number” on how many people would be allowed into the UK after Brexit.