Boris Johnson to say terror is not sparked by western intervention as defence secretary Gavin Williamson insists no British Islamic State fighters can return

Catherine Neilan
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Boris Johnson will today argue that British foreign policy is "not the problem, it is part of the solution" when it comes to jihadi terrorism, heading off EU criticism that the country is turning away from the global fight against terror.

The foreign secretary will lay the blame on the growth of Islamist terrorism on repressive states as he insists that Britain will be as committed to defeating terrorism in Europe after Brexit as now.

His intervention comes a week after the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier accused the UK of deserting the war on terror by voting to leave the trading bloc.

According to a trail handed to several journalists ahead of today's speech, Johnson will say: “To assert, as people often do, that the terrorism we see on the streets of Britain and America is some kind of punishment for adventurism and folly in the Middle East is to ignore that these so-called punishments are visited on peoples – Swedes, Belgians, Finns or the Japanese hostages murdered by Daesh – with no such history in the region.”

The minister will also call for a greater focus on inclusion by western powers, saying: "above all, we will win when we understand that ‘we’ means not just us in the west, but the hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world who share the same hopes and dreams, who have the same anxieties and goals for their families, who are equally engaged with the world and all its excitements and possibilities, who are equally determined to beat this plague.”

Last week Barnier effectively dubbed the referendum result an act of selfishness, saying: “Never had the need to be together, to protect ourselves together, to act together been so strong, so manifest. Yet rather than stay shoulder to shoulder with the Union, the British chose to be on their own again.”

But pro-Leave Johnson will insist that Britain will continue to "mak[e] good on what the Prime Minister has rightly called the unconditional commitment of the British people to the security of our European friends – not just in this continent but beyond.”

The government has been consistent in its commitment to cooperating with the EU on the fight against terror. In September it published a position paper saying it would seek a post-Brexit security framework with the European Union that is "deeper than any other third country".

Johnson's speech comes as new defence secretary Gavin Williamson said in an interview that any Brits who have fought with Daesh - also known as Islamic State - should be stopped from returning to the UK.

"I do not believe that any terrorist, whether they come from this country or any other, should ever be allowed back into this country," he told the Daily Mail. The former chief whip said we must do whatever we can to "eliminate the threat", adding: "Quite simply my view is a dead terrorist can’t cause any harm to Britain."

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