Boris Johnson warns stopping Brexit would be disastrous

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will reach out to Remain voters in Wednesday’s Brexit speech by insisting Brexit fears are unfounded. Excerpts from the speech have already been branded by detractors as “hypocritical.”

UK Foreign Secretary and Brexit champion Boris Johnson will on Wednesday marry campaign rhetoric with an appeal for unity, as he kick starts a series of high-profile speeches on Britain’s divorce with the European Union.

Extracts from the speech released by the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday revealed that Johnson will reach out specifically to those who voted to remain in the EU by insisting that Brexit should be grounds for hope, rather than fear.

However, he also reverted back to discourse that was typical of the run-up to the Brexit vote, pointing out that some of the more pro-European officials in Prime Minister’s Theresa May’s government were seeking to “frustrate the will of the people.”

On those stopping Brexit: “I fear that some people are becoming ever more determined to stop Brexit … I believe that would be a disastrous mistake that would lead to permanent and ineradicable feelings of betrayal.”

On appealing to Remain voters: “If we are to carry this project through to national success — as we must — then we must also reach out to those who still have anxieties. It is not good enough to say to Remainers — you lost, get over it; because we must accept that many are actuated by entirely noble sentiments, a real sense of solidarity with our European neighbors and a desire for the UK to succeed.”

On making Brexit a success: “I want to try today to anatomize at least some of those fears and to show to the best of my ability that they are unfounded, and that the very opposite is usually true: that Brexit is not grounds for fear but hope.”

Johnson’s ‘betrayal’ comments trigger backlash

Chuka Umunna, a lawmaker from the opposition Labour party, described Johnson’s upcoming speech 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.

“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.”