Now there's a "Brexit means Brexit" pressure group (and BoJo is backing it)

Lynsey Barber
Follow Lynsey
The Foreign Secretary Meets With The Syrian High Negotiations Committee
Boris Johnson is backing Change Britain (Source: Getty)

Boris Johnson has thrown his weight behind a new group piling pressure on Theresa May to push for a so-called hard Brexit.

In a surprise move, the newly appointed foreign secretary has backed the Change Britain campaign chaired by Leave campaigner and Labour MP Gisela Stuart alongside a string of high profile pro-Leave campaigners.

Read more: This MP wants Article 50 triggered within "weeks"

In a video launching the group, Johnson said: "Now more than ever we need to show the British people that as politicians, we are listening to what they have to say. Brexit means Brexit. And that means delivering on their instructions and restoring UK control over our laws, borders, money and trade.

"Leaving the EU isn't about leaving Europe. We will remain the closest of allies, cooperating fully on intelligence, security, defence and foreign affairs with our continental neighbours. But this is also about seizing the opportunities leaving the EU offers. A Britain that looks beyond the EU , into the most prosperous and dynamic regions of the world."

Also supporting the group are Leave campaigner and former justice secretary Michael Gove, chair of the work and pensions select committee Frank Field and former chancellor Nigel Lawson.

Wetherspoons founder and chairman Tim Martin, the former head of the CBI and minister for trade and investment Lord Digby Jones are also backing the campaign which is seeking "to get the job done".

"We aim to build a broad coalition that brings together people from inside and outside politics, regardless of how they voted in the referendum, to get the job done," said the campaign website.

Read more: Britons may need visas to travel in Europe after Brexit is formalised

"It is time to look forward and tackle the challenges ahead and seize the opportunities that are within reach. That means supporting the government’s efforts so that Britain’s exit from the EU exploits every opportunity to strengthen the economy, improve our democracy and provide better public services. It means working to build an inclusive society, challenging people who want to exploit division and reconnecting decision makers with the people they serve."

On a page called "Brexit means Brexit" the cross-party group called for "free movement of people from the EU without denying our businesses with the skills and talent they need to grow" and "getting British businesses the best possible deal to sell goods and services into the Single Market".

Critics have noted that the group does not refer to a pledge made by Leave campaigners before the referendum to spend £350m a week on the NHS which famously appeared on the Brexit battle bus.

Remain supporter and Tory MP Anna Soubry told the Observer it was outrageous and they "should hang their heads in shame.