Brexit doesn't mean Britain is leaving Europe 'in any sense', Boris Johnson insists ahead of his first EU meeting

The Foreign Secretary is making his first foreign trip

Jon Stone
Monday 18 July 2016 09:22 BST
Johnson's first overseas trip

Britain is “in no sense” leaving Europe as it pulls out of the European Union, the new Foreign Secretary has said.

Boris Johnson said ahead of his first meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council that the UK would not “abandon its leading role” on the continent after Brexit.

The Brexit campaigner told reporters in Brussels that he had had a productive 45-minute meeting with EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini on Sunday.

“It's very, very good to be here for my first overseas trip,” he said.

“The message I'll be taking to our friends in the Council is that we have to give effect to the will of the people and leave the European Union.

“But that in no sense means we are leaving Europe. We are not going to be in any way abandoning our leading role in European participation and co-operation of all kinds.

“I had a very good conversation to that effect with High Representative Mogherini and she very much agreed that is a role Britain should continue to play.

“When you look at the discussion on the table this morning over the horrific events in Nice, and Turkey where we have to work very closely together, you see the importance of that.

“On Nice, we will be ensuring that we co-ordinate our response to terror.

“On Turkey, it is very important in light of the failed coup that we see restraint and moderation on all sides, and that is what I will be calling for.

“In the meantime, I am very much looking forward to meeting my colleagues from other European countries.”

Mr Johnson made similar comments last week, arguing that he would be “reshaping Britain's global profile and identity as a great global player” in his new role.

The Foreign Secretary is expected to get a rough ride from his European Union counterparts at today’s meeting, who are well aware of his role in steering Britain towards the exit door.

He met US Secretary of State John Kerry for breakfast talks on Monday alongside other EU foreign ministers. They are said to have discussed the situation in Turkey and the aftermath of the Nice atrocity

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