Boris Johnson: The UK is not a nation hauling up the drawbridge

Emma Haslett
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Johnson: "We should not let realism obscure the extraordinary things we are capable of doing" (Source: Getty)

Boris Johnson has signalled the government's intention to ensure Britain remains a powerful force in global politics after Brexit, saying the UK is "not a nation hauling up the drawbridge".

In one of his most forward-looking speeches since the Brexit vote, Johnson said Brexit "emphatically does not mean that Britain turns in on itself".

"There were plenty of people who voted to leave the EU, not because they disliked or feared foreigners, but because they believed in democracy," he said.

Read more: Hammond echoes Brexit secretary on future EU contributions

"We are a protagonist - a global Britain running a truly global foreign policy. My message to you today is that this global approach is in the interests both of Britain and the world."

In a speech which ranged from Britain's commitment to Nato to the political situation in Asia to the conservation of elephants in Africa, Johnson said the UK was "politically, economically and morally fated to be more outward looking than ever before".

"There will be cynics who say we can't afford it - I say we can't afford not too," he said.

"It is in our interests to contribute to global growth and order. We have to acknowledge the world is not now in good shape. Indeed, it is more dangerous and volatile than in several decades."

Nato spending

He also laid out the UK's position on Nato, saying he agreed with Donald Trump that one member of the alliance - the US - should not contribute 70 per cent of its spending.

"I want every Nato member to... spend two per cent of GDP," he said.

Last month Johnson called for a measured approach to Trump's victory in the Presidential election, saying attacks on Trump "could be damaging to the interests of this country".

Business as usual

And he added that although the UK cannot "normalise relations with Russia or go back to 'business as usual', Russia could win the acclaim of the world by halting its bombing campaign in Syria".

"We should have the wisdom to know our limitations and face the world with humility," he said.

"But we should not let that realism obscure the extraordinary things we are capable of doing."

Yesterday the pound rose after Brexit secretary David Davis hinted that the UK may pay for access to the single market.

“The major criterion here is that we get the best possible access for goods and services to the European Market and if that is included in what he is talking about, then of course we would consider it,” Davis said.

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