The UK will have a great future after Brexit, but the rest of the EU will also have a great future as it is not about a zero-sum game. London wants a strong EU, supported by a strong UK, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson told a Tuesday’s exclusive interview to Agerpres.
Boris Johnson on Monday had a meeting with his Romanian counterpart Teodor Melescanu in Bucharest, in the context of a short tour he is paying these days to Prague, Bucharest and Bratislava, following Friday’s speech in Florence delivered by UK Premier Theresa May on Brexit.
“I think we’ll all have a great future, but I think that the rest of the EU will also have a great future. And it’s not zero-sum. It’s not zero-sum, it can be win-win. Some people are gloomy about it, I don’t think there’s no need to be gloomy. We can have a strong EU, supported by a strong UK. That’s what we want,” said the chief British diplomat.
He reminded that in her Florence speech on Friday, PM Theresa May informed that London would honour its commitments under the medium-term financial framework but also in terms of the EU citizens’ rights and defence.
PM May pointed out in her speech that ‘we’re putting some money on the table, which is also important. And we’re saying that we will continue to honour our commitments under the medium-term for natural framework, and during the transition period, we said there would be a transition period till 2021, we will also be paying,’ Boris Johnson said.
“So we hope that now that Britain has said these things about citizenship, about money and in the transition period and about our commitment to defence, that our friends in Romania, in Bucharest, will say ‘hey, look, the Brits are being pretty positive here, now’s the time for us all, as Europeans, to move this conversation forwards’. Because in Brussels they’ve divided the negotiations into two parts, into, first of all, discussions on citizenship and money and Northern Ireland and so on, and then into the future. We think it’s time to talk about the future. It’s time to float this ship down the slipway and get it on to the open seas and get moving. And so I hope the conversation can begin,” he added.
Asked whether he has any regret about the UK’s leaving the EU, Boris Johnson said the only thing he regrets is people’s tendency to make a confusion between the EU institutions and Europe.
“I think the only thing I would say is that people always make a confusion between the institutions of the EU and our great European culture and civilization, which is our common heritage and possession. And they confuse the Brussels system that has grown up over the last 40-50 years with Europe. We’re not leaving Europe. It’s not physically possible. We are quintessentially a European culture, the Brits, we are going to be part of Europe forever,” he underscored.
“So, if there’s one thing I regret, its people’s tendency to confuse the Commission, the European Council, the Court of Justice, blah, blah, blah… with Europe. That’s not Europe, it’s a system of government, but it’s a different thing. So we are wholly committed to European civilization, to European cooperation, all those things, but just in a different way. That’s the crucial message: we may be leaving the EU, but we’re not leaving Europe,” said the chief British diplomat.
Boris Johnson also voiced conviction that British citizens would vote the same if they had the chance.
“I think overwhelmingly people in my country just want to get on and do it. They’ve, you know, they’ve had enough. That’s why we’re hopeful that our friends in Brussels will get the real negotiations going, get started,” he said.
Melescanu-Johnson talks focus on strengthening strategic partnership, Romanian community
Romania’s Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu and his British counterpart Boris Johnson, who visited Romania on Monday, had an extensive exchange of views on the latest developments in and future prospects for bilateral political and diplomatic cooperation, the consolidation of the strategic partnership launched in 2003 and the situation of the Romanian community in the UK in the context of Brexit.
According to a press statement released by the Romanian Foreign Affairs Ministry (MAE) on Tuesday, the talks took place as the latest round of talks was conducted between the UK Government and the European Commission on the terms of UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a statement on September 22 on the UK offering for these negotiations.
“Given the context, discussions centred on the prospects for continued UK involvement in the field of security and defence at European level post-Brexit. The Romanian official welcomed the dynamics of military cooperation, which has reached a particularly intense level this year, while highlighting the importance of furthered cooperation between Romania and the UK. The two sides reconfirmed their commitment to strengthening their strategic partnership, including by identifying new sectoral opportunities.”
At the meeting, Melescanu reaffirmed the role of the Romanian community in the UK, a significant component of the bilateral relationship, and the importance the Romanian Government attaches to the protection of the rights of its citizens amidst Brexit negotiations.
“The high degree of integration of the Romanian community with the British society was highlighted, along with the community’s added value to the host country,” says MAE.
“In Bucharest tonight to assure Romanian FM @teodormelescanu that UK-Romanian ties will be even stronger after we leave the EU, Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter on Monday evening.