Foreign secretary Boris Johnson says Prime Minister Theresa May can usher in "a new era" of free trade deals

Mark Sands
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Johnson was speaking at the Lord Mayor's Banquet (Source: Getty)

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson has waded into the General Election campaign for the first time by launching a broadside at Labour and committing the government to a free trade agenda at the Lord Mayor's Banquet.

Addressing an audience of ambassadors at the Mansion House, Johnson said the UK will be "the foremost campaigner for global free trade".

On Brexit, the foreign secretary said “negotiations will be tough and some plaster may fall off the ceiling” but added that “[Prime Minister] Theresa May can pull it off”, claming that May will “usher in a new era of free trade deals”.

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"Those free trade deals will be good for UK manufacturers and exporters. Then, in the virtuous circle of free trade, that extra growth and prosperity - that extra spending cash - will make the UK an even more successful export market for our friends and partners in Europe and around the world," he said.

In a barely veiled criticism of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Johnson also stressed the need for strong leadership as the UK tackles threats including Daesh.

"Now is not the time to step back, as some would want, but to step up," he said.

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