A tetchy Boris Johnson took a move from the Trump playbook today, describing Brexit criticism as “BBC claptrap” while promising “a gigantic free trade deal” with the EU after Britain leaves.
The foreign secretary was in a particularly cantankerous mood as he appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, employing the US president’s favoured techniques of dismissing mainstream media reports as fake while making outlandish vows on trade.
Marr had asked Johnson, a leading Brexiteer, whether he was happy with the timescale and an outcome in which the European Court of Justice would continue to have influence and the UK would pay to remain in a number of EU agencies.
Johnson said: “I think that the Mansion House speech was a great step forward and I think it shows exactly the type of deal we want to get. We’re not gonna have the influence of the European Court of Justice. I don’t know why you’re saying this sort of BBC claptrap.
“We’re not gonna be paying in after we come out. Yes, there will be an implementation period, but after we come out we’ll have what is effectively a gigantic free trade deal with all sort of bolt-ons and the advantage of the new arrangements, as the prime minister spelt out at [her] Mansion House [speech], is that it will be possible to do things differently, to do things in their own way and there will be an independent arbitration panel that will be able to decide whether or not there is a distortion of trade in tail.
“So we have, you know, on money, on borders, on laws, you are seeing the fulfilment of the pledge to take back control.”
Earlier in the interview, the foreign secretary breezily dismissed a report from the Commons’ Brexit Select Committee suggesting that the date of Britain’s exit may have to be delayed.
He said: “Well, I don’t think that’s true at all and I think that we’re making great progress in the negotiations and I hope that we’ll get a good deal on an implementation period in March.
“The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to trigger Article 50 and let’s get on with it.”
No extra negotiating time was needed even for border arrangements, he said, adding: “I think what most people in this country want, whether they voted Leave or to Remain, they want us to get on and deal with it.”
Johnson snapped at Marr when the presenter read from a leaked letter from the foreign secretary to the prime minister in which he appeared to be relaxed about the prospect of a hard border in Ireland
“The whole point about the letter was to say we don’t need a hard border, OK?,” he said.
“And that’s the policy of the government. And that’s what we’re going to produce. And if you read the prime minister’s Mansion House speech, which was excellent, you would have seen that she produced a number of solutions for the avoidance of a hard border. That was what I was advocating.”
But he would not be releasing the full text of the letter, he said.
“We do not, as a matter of course, respond to leaks by putting the whole thing into the public domain, but I assure you that the letter said the exact opposite of what you have just claimed it said. [The words] don’t, as it happens, mean what you want them to mean.
“What I was saying is very clearly in line with what the government as a whole has been saying for a long time, which is there is no need to have a hard border, there are ways of avoiding it, as the prime minister said in her excellent Mansion House speech, and I suggest that you quote that and read that.”
Johnson also said he said no evidence that Russia “successfully intervened” in the Brexit referendum.