Johnson: Leaving EU does not mean leaving Europe

Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street after being appointed Foreign Secretary. (Steve Parsons, AP)
Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street after being appointed Foreign Secretary. (Steve Parsons, AP)

London - Leaving the European Union "does not mean leaving Europe", says Britain's new foreign minister and leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson.

"On Europe, clearly we have to give effect to the will of the people in the referendum, but that does not mean in any sense leaving Europe," he told reporters outside the Foreign Office on Thursday.

"There is a massive difference between leaving the EU and our relations with Europe, which if anything are going to be intensified."

In one of her first acts as prime minister on Wednesday, Theresa May named Johnson the country's top diplomat, stunning observers who had written off the gaffe-prone former London mayor after he pulled out of the race to succeed May's predecessor David Cameron two weeks ago.

Johnson said he had had a "very, very busy" first day on the job, with US counterpart John Kerry among the first to call with congratulations.

Working together

"His view was that post-Brexit, and after the negotiations, what he really wants to see - and I think this is the right thing for the UK - is more Britain abroad...a greater global profile. And I think we now have the opportunity to achieve that," Johnson said.

He shrugged off criticism from his European peers, including French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who accused him of having "lied a lot" during the Brexit campaign.

"After a vote like the referendum result on June 23, it's inevitable that there is going to be a certain amount of plaster coming off the ceilings in the chancelleries of Europe," Johnson said.

But, he added: "I have to say, the French foreign minister in fact has sent me a charming letter just a couple of hours ago saying how much he looked forward to working together and to deepening Anglo-French cooperation in all sorts of areas."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
As a child or as an adult, have you ever been a victim of bullying?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, at school
53% - 279 votes
Yes, at work
17% - 92 votes
No, I've never experienced this
30% - 159 votes
Vote
USD/ZAR
14.31
(0.0)
GBP/ZAR
19.81
(0.0)
EUR/ZAR
17.15
(0.0)
AUD/ZAR
11.07
(0.0)
JPY/ZAR
0.13
(0.0)
Gold
1,776.67
(0.0)
Silver
25.97
(0.0)
Platinum
1,203.79
(0.0)
Brent Crude
66.77
(-0.3)
Palladium
2,781.00
(0.0)
All Share
68,699
(+1.3)
Top 40
62,898
(+1.3)
Financial 15
12,446
(+0.8)
Industrial 25
89,364
(+0.8)
Resource 10
70,350
(+2.2)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo