Boris Johnson – 2018 Article on Vladimir Putin

Below is the text of the article written by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, on 20 March 2018.

To understand why 3 people lie stricken in Salisbury, look at Vladimir Putin’s actions inside Russia.

Yesterday he was proclaimed the winner of an election that resembled a coronation, complete with a triumphant ceremony outside the walls of the Kremlin. Mr Putin’s leading opponent had obviously been banned from standing and an abundance of CCTV footage appeared to show election officials nonchalantly stuffing ballot boxes.

One loyal functionary in Siberia used balloons in Russia’s national colours for the novel function of covering up a prying camera. “A choice without a real competition, as we have seen in this election, unfortunately is not a real choice,” was the verdict of the observer mission from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

As he extends his grip on power, Mr Putin is taking his country in a dangerous direction. Throughout his rule he has eroded the liberties of the Russian people, tightened the screws of state repression and hunted down supposed foes.

When a leader starts behaving in this way then no-one should be surprised if many of his compatriots feel drawn to the example of countries that observe a different scale of values. They will notice that plenty of nations hold elections where no-one knows the result in advance. They will see how free societies in Europe, America and elsewhere thrive and prosper precisely because people are able to live as they choose, provided they do no harm.

They will understand how an independent media exposes the failings or evasions of democratic governments. And they will wonder why Russia cannot have the same? Mr Putin cannot give the straight answer, which is that he must deny Russia those freedoms in order to guarantee his perpetual rule. Instead, he has to send an emphatic message that asking awkward questions or turning against him carries a terrible price. Which brings us back to Salisbury. The use of a Russian military grade ‘Novichok’ nerve agent against Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was very deliberate.

As Ken Clarke pointed out in Parliament last week, the obvious Russian-ness of the weapon was designed to send a signal to anyone pondering dissent amid the intensifying repression of Mr Putin’s Russia. The message is clear: we will hunt you down, we will find you and we will kill you – and though we will scornfully deny our guilt, the world will know that Russia did it.

There was a hint of this in Mr Putin’s first public response to Salisbury. He denied Russia’s culpability – of course – while carefully injecting a note of menace. “If it was military grade agent,” he said, “they would have died on the spot, obviously.”

Obviously. After all, he had already told state television that traitors would “kick the bucket” and “choke” on their “pieces of silver”. Yet the Kremlin, accustomed to a tame official media, is clearly struggling to get its story straight.

Since the Skripals and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey were struck down on March 4, Russian officials and the state media have claimed variously that ‘Novichok’ never existed, or the stockpiles were destroyed, or they weren’t destroyed but mysteriously escaped to other countries.

Alexander Shulgin, the Russian Ambassador to The Hague, told Sky News: “I’ve never heard about this programme, about this Novichok agent. Never.” But his memory suddenly improved when he appeared on Russia Today and said that Novichok had been developed by the Soviet Union. “There never was such a programme under such a codename in the Russian Federation,” he said. “However, in Soviet times research began to produce a new generation of poisonous substances.”

This seemed to wrongfoot the Russian foreign ministry, whose spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, declared on the same day that neither Russia nor the Soviet Union had created Novichok. “This programme is not the creation of Russia or the Soviet Union,” she said, before disgracefully pointing the finger at Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, America – and inevitably the UK.

Meanwhile, other Russian officials have sought to conjure doubt and suspicion out of thin air. Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian Ambassador in London, questioned the absence of photographs of the Skripals in their hospital beds.

His counterpart in Brussels, Vladimir Chizhov, accused Britain of breaking “consular conventions” because Russian officials had not been able to visit the Skripals.

The response to the 2 envoys is so obvious that I can scarcely believe they require instruction. Sergei and Yulia Skripal have been in a coma since 4 March – as you would expect from victims of a nerve agent attack. They cannot give their consent to be photographed or receive visitors. Under the NHS Code of Practice, hospitals must have their patients’ permission before allowing this to happen.

And I will make the point as delicately as possible: it is not obvious that the Skripals, of all patients, would welcome a visit from Russian officials. The Russian state is resorting to its usual strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation.

But when I met my European counterparts in Brussels yesterday, what struck me most is that no-one is fooled. Just about every country represented around the table had been affected by malign or disruptive Russian behaviour. Most had endured the kind of mendacious propaganda onslaught that the UK is experiencing today.

This is how Mr Putin behaves at home; we should not expect anything different abroad.

Boris Johnson – 2018 Comments on the Salisbury Attack

Below is the text of the comments made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, on 19 March 2018.

Good morning. I have been very heartened already by the strength of the support that the UK is getting in respect of the incident in Salisbury and I think that is partly because they can see that Britain is acting [with] punctilious accordance with our obligations under the Treaty on Chemical Weapons and I would contrast that with how the Russians are behaving.

Today the technical experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons are arriving in the UK to take the samples from Salisbury and in the meantime the Russian denials grow increasingly absurd. At one time they say that they never made Novichok, at another time they say that they did make Novichok but all the stocks have been destroyed. Then again they say that they made Novichok but all the stocks have been destroyed but some of them have mysteriously escaped to Sweden or at the Czech Republic or Slovakia or the United States – or even – America, or the United Kingdom.

I think what people can see is that this is a classic Russian strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation. And what really strikes me talking to European friends and partners today is that 12 years after the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in London they are not fooling anybody anymore. There is scarcely a country around the table – here in Brussels – that has not been affected by some kind of malign or disruptive Russian behaviour and that is why I think the strength and the resolve of our European friends is so striking today. Thank you very much.

Boris Johnson – Statement on Salisbury Attack

Below is the text of the statement made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, on 13 March 2018.

The first thing is to get over to our friends and partners exactly what has happened, and that’s what we’ve been doing today. As the Prime Minister explained yesterday, this is a brazen attempt to murder people – innocent people – on UK soil. The policeman is still in hospital.

It’s overwhelmingly likely, or highly likely that the Russian state was involved. And the use of this nerve agent would represent the first use of nerve agents on the continent of Europe since the Second World War.

Clearly what we’re doing today is giving Russia until midnight tonight to explain how it came to be that Novichok was used on the streets of Wiltshire. If they can come up with a convincing explanation then obviously we will want to see full disclosure of that to the Organisations for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.

If not, then clearly we will want to be announcing the UK response, and that would come tomorrow. In the meantime, what we’ve been doing is talking to friends and partners, explaining what we see as the high likelihood of Russian State agency.

I’ve been very encouraged so far by the strength of the support that we are getting. I think in particular from President Macron of France, Sigmar Gabriel, my German counterpart, and from Washington, where Rex Tillerson last night made it very clear that he sees this as part of a pack of increasingly disruptive behaviour by Russia – the reckless use of chemical weapons that stretches from Syria to the streets of Salisbury. I’ve been encouraged by the willingness of our friends to show support and solidarity.

It’s important that we wait until the deadline has passed. You’ve got to do this correctly. We’ve given the Russians until midnight to explain how the Novichok could have come to be on the streets of Britain. We cannot exclude that they have an explanation and we will want a full disclosure to the chemical weapons watchdog in the Hague. If not, there is a package of measures that we would use.

It is very important that people understand the gravity of what has happened and the outrage that the British government feels about the use of nerve agents, use of chemical weapons, against innocent members of the public, against an innocent police officer, on UK soil. We will make sure that our response is, as I told the House last week, commensurate but robust.

Boris Johnson – 2018 Statement on Syria

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 26 February 2018.

Mr Speaker, I’m grateful to the Hon Member for Barrow and Furness for raising this vital issue. In 7 years of bloodshed, the war in Syria has claimed 400,000 lives and driven 11 million people from their homes, causing a humanitarian tragedy on a scale unknown anywhere else in the world.

The House should never forget that the Asad regime – aided and abetted by Russia and Iran – has inflicted the overwhelming burden of that suffering. Asad’s forces are now bombarding the enclave of Eastern Ghouta, where 393,000 people are living under siege, enduring what has become a signature tactic of the regime, whereby civilians are starved and pounded into submission.

With bitter irony, Russia and Iran declared Eastern Ghouta to be a ‘de-escalation area’ in May last year and promised to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid.

But the truth is that Asad’s regime has allowed only one United Nations convoy to enter Eastern Ghouta so far this year – and that carried supplies only for a fraction of the area’s people. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in Eastern Ghouta in the last week alone and the House will have noted the disturbing reports of the use of chlorine gas.

I call for these reports to be fully investigated and for anyone held responsible for using chemical weapons in Syria to be held accountable.

Over the weekend I discussed the situation with my Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, and Sa’ad Hariri, the Prime Minister of Lebanon. Earlier today, I spoke to Sigmar Gabriel, the German foreign minister, and I shall be speaking to other European counterparts and the UN Secretary General in the coming days.

Britain has joined with our allies to mobilise the Security Council to demand a ceasefire across the whole of Syria and the immediate delivery of emergency aid to all in need.

Last Saturday, after days of prevarication from Russia, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401, demanding that “all parties cease hostilities without delay” and allow the “safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid”, along with “medical evacuations of the critically sick and wounded”.

The main armed groups in Eastern Ghouta have accepted the ceasefire, but as of today, the warplanes of the Asad regime are still reported to be striking targets in the enclave and the UN has been unable to deliver any aid. I will remind the House that hundreds of thousands of civilians are going hungry in Eastern Ghouta only a few miles from UN warehouses in Damascus that are laden with food. The Asad regime must allow the UN to deliver those supplies, in compliance with Resolution 2401, and we look forward to Russia and Iran to making sure this happens, in accordance with their own promises.

I have invited the Russian Ambassador to come to the Foreign Office and give an account of his country’s plans to implement Resolution 2401. I have instructed the UK Mission at the UN to convene another meeting of the Security Council to discuss the Asad regime’s refusal to respect the will of the UN and implement the ceasefire without delay. Only a political settlement in Syria can ensure that the carnage is brought to an end and I believe that such a settlement is possible if the will exists.

The UN Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, is ready to take forward the talks in Geneva and the opposition are ready to negotiate pragmatically and without preconditions. The international community has united behind the path to a solution laid out in UN Resolution 2254 and Russia has stated its wish to achieve a political solution under the auspices of the UN.

Today, only the Asad regime stands in the way of progress. I urge Russia to use all its influence to bring the Asad regime to the negotiating table and take the steps towards peace that Syria’s people so desperately need.

Boris Johnson – 2018 Article on Fourth Anniversary of Crimean Annexation

Below is the text of the article released by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, on 22 February 2018.

On the night of 22 February 2014, the most powerful men in Russia gathered in the Kremlin and resolved to seize Crimea from Ukraine.

They would later make elaborate efforts to give their decision a veneer of legitimacy – including by staging a bogus referendum – but that meeting between President Vladimir Putin and his security chiefs was designed to seal the fate of Crimea’s people.

We know this because Mr Putin said as much. In a documentary for Russian television, broadcast in 2015, the President described the sequence of events.

He decided to grab Crimea during that conclave in the Kremlin 3 weeks before the sham referendum. All those claims about how he acted to protect the region’s people or uphold their wishes were, by Mr Putin’s own account, utterly mendacious.

So it was that Russia seized 10,000 square miles from Ukraine and broke the first principle of international law – that countries may not acquire territory or change borders by force.

Mr Putin formally annexed Crimea into the Russian Federation on 18 March 2014. Four years after that event, we should remind ourselves of the enormity of what happened and redouble our determination to stand up for our values and uphold international law.

Russia’s land grab in Crimea amounted to the first forcible annexation of the territory of a European country – and the first forcible redrawing of a European frontier – since 1945.

In the process, Russia broke so many international agreements that listing them all is a challenge. To select a few examples, Mr Putin trampled upon Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the Russia-Ukraine Treaty of Friendship.

He also broke Russia’s specific pledge, contained in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, to respect the “existing borders of Ukraine” and “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine”.

And after annexing Crimea Mr Putin went still further, igniting and vigorously fanning the flames of conflict in eastern Ukraine. To this day, Russia continues to deploy troops and tanks in a conflagration that has claimed over 10,000 lives and driven 2.3 million people from their homes.

Flight MH17 became another victim of this tragedy when a Russian missile launched from an area controlled by Russian proxy fighters blew this passing airliner out of the sky, killing 298 innocent people, including 10 Britons.

All the while, reports have emerged from Crimea of the oppression of the indigenous Tatar population and the harassment of those opposed to Russian annexation. Despite repeated calls from the UN General Assembly, Russia has refused to allow international human rights monitors to enter the peninsula.

In the end, the security of every nation depends on the essential principle that countries should not change borders or acquire territory by force. That is why the fate of Crimea matters to all of us.

We all have an obligation to stand up to Russia in a measured and resolute way. That means sustaining our Crimea-related sanctions against Russia for as long as the region remains under Kremlin control, and keeping further sanctions in place whilst the Minsk Agreements in eastern Ukraine go unheeded.

These measures are intended to demonstrate that no country, however large, can dismember its neighbour and break international law without consequence.

Nevertheless, while holding fast to our principles, we should engage firmly and purposefully with Russia. We need to communicate with clarity and directness our concern over the Kremlin’s actions.

There is no contradiction between dialogue and deterrence – indeed the one can reinforce the other – as I made clear when I visited Moscow in December. As permanent members of the Security Council, Britain and Russia also share special responsibility for international peace and security.

Our motto with Russia must be to ‘engage but beware’ and both halves of the formula should be pursued with equal resolve. But we must never forget the terrible consequences of that late night gathering in the Kremlin.

Boris Johnson – 2018 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, on 14 February 2018.

The other day a woman pitched up in my surgery in a state of indignation. The ostensible cause was broadband trouble but it was soon clear – as so often in a constituency surgery – that the real problem was something else.

No one was trying to understand her feelings about Brexit. No one was trying to bring her along. She felt so downcast, she said, that she was thinking of leaving the country – to Canada. It wasn’t so much that she wanted to be in the EU; she just didn’t want to be in a Britain that was not in the EU.

And I recognised that feeling of grief, and alienation, because in the last 18 months I have heard the same sentiments so often – from friends, from family, from people hailing me abusively in the street – as is their right.

In many cases I believe the feelings are abating with time, as some of the fears about Brexit do not materialise. In some cases, alas, I detect a hardening of the mood, a deepening of the anger.

I fear that some people are becoming ever more determined to stop Brexit, to reverse the referendum vote of June 23 2016, and to frustrate the will of the people. I believe that would be a disastrous mistake that would lead to permanent and ineradicable feelings of betrayal. We cannot and will not let it happen.

But if we are to carry this project through to national success – as we must – then we must also reach out to those who still have anxieties.

I want to today to anatomise at least some of the fears and to show to the best of my ability that these fears can be allayed, and that the very opposite is true: that Brexit can be grounds for much more hope than fear.

There are essentially 3 types of concern about the momentous choice the nation has made.


The first is that this is simply a strategic or geo-strategic mistake. On this view Britain is an offshore island comprising fewer than 1% of humanity, and we need to be bound up in the European Union for protection – partly for our protection, and partly so that Britain can fulfil its historic role of providing protection for the other countries of the European continent. I come across quite a few people who think that Brexit has cast us adrift – made our geostrategic position somehow more vulnerable, while weakening the security of the whole of Europe.


The second anxiety is essentially spiritual and aesthetic – that by voting to leave the EU we have sundered ourselves from the glories of European civilisation. People believe that we have thrown up a figurative drawbridge, made it less easy to live, study, work abroad; and decided to sacrifice the Europeanness in our identities. They fear that the Brexit vote was a vote for nationalism and small-mindedness and xenophobia. They think it was illiberal, reactionary and the British have shown the worst of their character to the world; indeed that it was in some sense un-British.


And the third objection is the one that occupies most of the debate – the economic fear that we have voted to make ourselves less prosperous; that membership of the EU is vital for UK business and investment, and that the panoply of EU legislation has helped to make life easier for companies and for citizens. People fear the disruption they associate with change, and that our friends and partners in the EU may make life difficult for us. Sometimes these economic anxieties are intensified by the other fears – about identity or security – so that hitherto recondite concepts like the single market or the customs union acquire unexpected emotive power.

Well I believe that whatever the superficial attractions of these points, they can be turned on their head.

I want to show you today that Brexit need not be nationalist but can be internationalist; not an economic threat but a considerable opportunity; not un-British but a manifestation of this country’s historic national genius.

And I can see obviously that I’m running the risk in making this case of simply causing further irritation. But I must take that risk because it is this government’s duty to advocate and explain the mission on which we are now engaged; and it has become absolutely clear to me that we cannot take the argument for granted.

We cannot expect the case to make itself. That was the mistake of the pro-EU elite in this country when they won the last referendum in 1975.

As the Guardian journalist the late Hugo Young points out in his book, This Blessed Plot:

The most corrupted trait I kept encountering was the sense – so prevalent among the Euro-elite, that having won the decision they had won the argument. Many exhibited the unmistakable opinion not only that the battle was over but that the other side, however loud it shouted, had simply lost and should now shut up.

And he went on to say:

The noisier the contest became during the early 1990s, the heavier the silent gloating that accompanied it, from the class that knew it commanded every operational forum from the ante-chambers of Whitehall to the boardrooms of big business, from Brussels committee rooms where a thousand lobbyists thronged, to the outposts of the Commission.

Well the boot is now on the other foot, at least in theory. For all their power and influence – every major political party, the CBI, Barack Obama and so on – those voices did not prevail.

But is this the time now for the referendum winners to gloat? Should we sit back in silent self-satisfaction? I don’t think we should.

It is not good enough to say to remainers – you lost, get over it; because we must accept that the vast majority are actuated by entirely noble sentiments, a real sense of solidarity with our European neighbours and a desire for the UK to succeed.

All I am saying is that by going for Brexit we can gratify those sentiments – and more.

So let me take the 3 anxieties in turn.

Security: a strong Britain and a strong EU

To all who worry about our strategic position and the supposed loss of Britain to European security I can offer this same vital reassurance that the Prime Minister has made so many times and that I believe is welcomed by our partners.

Our commitment to the defence of Europe is unconditional and immoveable. It is made real by the 800 British troops from 5th Battalion The Rifles I saw recently at Tapa in Estonia, who have since been relieved by 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh.

Already this country is the single biggest spender in the EU both on aid and defence. Although we represent only 13% of the EU’s population, we contribute 20% of defence spending – and the RAF’s giant C17 transport aircraft represent 100% of the heavy lift capacity of the whole of Europe – as well as 25% of the overseas aid budget.

It makes sense for us to continue to be intimately involved in European foreign and security policy. It would be illogical not to discuss such matters as sanctions together, bearing in mind that the UK expertise provides more than half of all EU sanctions listings.

We will continue to be Europeans both practically and psychologically, because our status as one of the great contributors to European culture and civilisation – and our status as one of the great guarantors of the security of Europe – is simply not dependent on the Treaty of Rome as amended at Maastricht or Amsterdam or Lisbon.

Spiritually British, European and global

So let us next tackle the suggestion that we are somehow going to become more insular. It just flies in the face of the evidence. It was my Labour predecessor Ernie Bevin who said, “my foreign policy is to go down to Victoria station and go anywhere I damn well please.”

That is pretty much what the British people already do. We have a bigger diaspora than any other rich nation – 6 million points of light scattered across an intermittently darkening globe.

There are more British people living in Australia than in the whole of the EU, more in the US and Canada. As I have just discovered we have more than a million people who go to Thailand every year, where our superb consular services deal with some of the things that they get up to there.

The statistical trajectory suggests that this wanderlust is most unlikely to abate. In 2016 the British people paid 71 million visits to other countries – and that is a 70% increase since the mid-1990s, and now more than one foreign trip per person per year.

If we get the right deal on aviation and on visa-free travel – both of which are in our mutual interest – this expansion of UK tourism will continue, not just beyond the EU, but within the EU itself; and we will continue to go on cheapo flights to stag parties in ancient cities where we will, I’m sure, receive a warm welcome and meet interesting people, fall in love, struggle amiably to learn the European languages – knowledge of which, by the way, has suffered a paradoxical decline during our membership of the EU.

There is no sensible reason why we should not be able to retire to Spain or indeed anywhere else (as indeed we did long before Spain joined what was then called the common market). We can continue the whirl of academic exchanges that have been a feature of European cultural life since the middle ages, and whose speed of cross-pollination has been accelerated by the internet as well as by schemes like Horizon or Erasmus – all of which we can continue to support, and whose participating scholars are certainly not confined to the EU.

For those who really want to make Britain less insular, and we all want to make Britain less insular don’t we – the answer is not to submit forever to the EU legal order, but to think about how we can undo the physical separation that took place at the end of the Ice Age.

Fly over the Channel at Dover and you see how narrow it is, the ferries plying back and forth like buses in Oxford street, and as you measure the blue straits with your fingers you can see that this moat is really an overgrown prehistoric river that once flowed down from the mountains of Norway and was fed by its tributaries, the Thames and the Seine and the Rhine. Indeed Britain and Holland used to be joined in the old days by a territory known as Doggerland.

In 1986 Margaret Thatcher and Francois Mitterrand had the vision to heal the rupture with a first dry crossing; and it is notable that Eurotunnel is now calling for both sides of the Channel to prepare for a second fixed link. It does indeed seem incredible to me that the fifth and sixth most powerful economies in the world, separated by barely 21 miles of water, should be connected by only one railway line.

I accept that the solution is still a few years off – though the need will be upon us fast – but I say all this to signal something about the attitudes that should inform Brexit.

It’s not about shutting ourselves off; it’s about going global.

It’s not about returning to some autarkic 1950s menu of spam and cabbage and liver. It’s about continuing the astonishing revolution in tastes and styles – in the arts, music, restaurants, sports – that has taken place in this country, in my lifetime, not so much because of our EU membership (that is to commit the fallacy known in the FCO as post hoc ergo propter hoc) but as a result of our history and global links, our openness to people and ideas that has brought 300 languages on to the streets of London, probably the most diverse capital on earth.

In that sense Brexit is about re-engaging this country with its global identity, and all the energy that can flow from that.

And I absolutely refuse to accept the suggestion that it is some un-British spasm of bad manners. It’s not some great V-sign from the cliffs of Dover.

It is the expression of a legitimate and natural desire for self-government of the people, by the people, for the people.

It is to fulfil the liberal idealism of John Stuart Mill himself, who recognised that it is only the nation – as he put it, “united among themselves by common sympathies which do not exist between themselves and others”. Only the nation could legitimate the activities of the state.

It was only if people had this common sympathy that they would consent to be governed as a unit, because this feeling of national solidarity would “make them cooperate more willingly than with other people, desire to be under the same government, and desire it should be government by themselves or a portion of themselves exclusively.”

And there is good reason for insisting on this national solidarity, or common sympathy, because government involves tremendous impositions, by which we collectively agree to taxation that pre-empts half our income, and obedience to laws not all of which we think are necessarily sensible.

If we are going to accept laws, then we need to know who is making them, and with what motives, and we need to be able to interrogate them in our own language, and we must know how they came to be in authority over us and how we can remove them.

And the trouble with the EU is that for all its idealism, which I acknowledge, and for all the good intentions of those who run the EU institutions, there is no demos – or at least we have never felt part of such a demos – however others in the EU may feel.

The British people have plenty of common sympathies with the people of France, of course we do – but it is hard to deny that they also share common sympathies with plenty of non-EU people – the Americans, the Swiss, the Canadians, the Pakistanis; Thais, and that is one of the reasons why we in the UK have had such difficulty in adapting to the whole concept of EU integration.

To understand why EU regulation is not always suited to the economic needs of the UK, it is vital to understand that EU law is a special type of law, unlike anything else on earth. It is not just about business convenience. It is expressly teleological. It is there to achieve a political goal.

The aim is to create an overarching European state as the basis for a new sense of European political identity. British politicians, Labour and Tory, have always found that ambition very difficult. It is hard to make it cohere with our particular traditions of independent parliamentary and legal systems that go back centuries.

And in spite of many sheep-like coughs of protest from the UK, the process of integration has deepened, and the corpus of EU law has grown ever vaster and more intricate, and ever more powers and competences were handed to EU institutions, culminating in the Treaty of Lisbon.

We now have arrangements of such complexity and obscurity that I ask even my most diehard of remainer friends if they can explain their Spitzenkandidaten process – which has genuinely delighted the MEPs in Strasbourg but has mystified us in the UK; or the exact relationship between the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, justiciable in Luxembourg, and the European Convention on Human Rights whose court sits in Strasbourg. Starter for ten: how many people in this room actually know the answer to those questions – I think very few. I think the answer to the second one is unknowable. How many know the name of their Euro-MPs?

And that is the point I sometimes make when I get the chance to throw the ball back over the net, to those who hail me in the street with cheery 4-letter epithets.

That’s the point, isn’t it. At least they know roughly who I am and roughly what I do, generally speaking.

If we wanted to find the person responsible for drafting the next phase of EU integration – in which Tony Blair and others would presumably like us to take part – we wouldn’t know where to find them, who they are, let alone how to remove them from office.

That is why people voted Leave – not because they were hostile to European culture and civilisation, but because they wanted to take back control.

That is why it is so vital that we don’t treat Brexit as a plague of boils or a murrain on our cattle, but as an opportunity, and above all as an economic opportunity.

The Brexit economic opportunity

Which brings me to the last crucial reassurances that my side of the argument must give.

We would be mad to go through this process of extrication from the EU, and not to take advantage of the economic freedoms it will bring.

We will stop paying huge sums to the EU every year and as the PM herself has said, this will leave us with more to spend on our domestic priorities, including, yes, the NHS.

We will be able to take back control of our borders – not because I am hostile to immigrants or immigration. Far from it. We need talented people to come and make their lives in this country – doctors, scientists, the coders and programmers who are so crucial to Britain’s booming tech economy.

It was my proudest boast as Mayor of London that we had 400,000 French men and women in the British capital – high-earning and high-spending types – while only about 20,000 UK nationals went the other way and were living in Paris. And we must stay that way, we must remain a magnet for ambition and drive.

But we also need to ask ourselves some hard questions about the impact of 20 years of uncontrolled immigration by low-skilled, low-wage workers – and what many see as the consequent suppression of wages and failure to invest properly in the skills of indigenous young people.

We do not want to haul up the drawbridge; and we certainly don’t want to minimise the wonderful contribution they have made and certainly don’t want to deter the international students who make such a vital contribution to our HE economy, with 155,000 Chinese students alone.

But we want to exercise control; and if we are going to move from a low-wage, low-productivity economy to a high-wage, high productivity economy – as we must – then Brexit gives us back at least one of the levers we need.

And the contrast in this country is very striking with some of the other countries and the Schengen countries, where no such control is possible, and where the far right is alas on the rise.

And as the PM has repeatedly said, we must take back control of our laws. And it would obviously be absurd, as Theresa May said in her Lancaster House and Florence speeches – which now have the lapidary status of the codes of Hammurabi or Moses – it would be absurd if we were obliged to obey laws over which we have no say and no vote.

As the PM said at Lancaster House remaining within the single market “would to all intents and purposes mean not leaving the EU at all.”

The British people should not have new laws affecting their everyday lives imposed from abroad, when they have no power to elect or remove those who make those laws. And there is no need for us to find ourselves in any such position.

To those who worry about coming out of the customs union or the single market – please bear in mind that the economic benefits of membership are nothing like as conspicuous or irrefutable as is sometimes claimed.

In the last few years there have been plenty of non-EU countries who have seen far more rapid growth in their exports to the EU than we have – even though we pay a handsome membership fee, as I have mentioned many times.

In spite of being outside the stockade, the US has been able to increase its exports twice as fast. I think there are 36 countries around the world that have done better than us in exporting into the EU, even though they are not members.

And for those of us within the stockade, the cost of EU regulation was estimated at 4% of GDP by Peter Mandelson and 7% by Gordon Brown. Authorities which for the purposes of this argument I do not propose to dispute.

It is only by taking back control of our laws that UK firms and entrepreneurs will have the freedom to innovate, without the risk of having to comply with some directive devised by Brussels, at the urgings of some lobby group, with the specific aim of holding back a UK competitor. That would be intolerable, undemocratic, and would make it all but impossible for us to do serious free trade deals.

It is only by taking back control of our regulatory framework and our tariff schedules that we can do these deals, and exploit the changes in the world economy.

It is a striking fact that our exports to the EU have grown by only 10% since 2010, while our sales to the US are up 41%, to China 60%, to Saudi Arabia 41, New Zealand 40, Japan 60, South Korea 100%. Those figures reflect the broader story that the lion’s share of the growth is taking place outside the EU, and especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

In a world that demands flexibility and agility, we should be thinking not of EU standards but of global standards, and a regulatory framework to suit the particular needs of the UK, a country that already exports a higher share of its GDP outside the EU than any other EU country.

We already boast an amazing economy, diverse and very different from rest of EU. We are the nation that has moved highest and furthest up the value chain of the 21st century economy.

We are a nation of inventors, designers, scientists, architects, lawyers, insurers, water slide testers – I met one in my constituency, Toblerone cabinet makers – all the Toblerone cabinets in Saudi Arabian airports are made in Uxbridge I am glad to tell you. There are some sectors, such as AI or bulk data where we really excel, we are streets ahead and in the future we may want to do things differently.

Of course we will need to comply with EU regulation in so far as we are exporting to the EU. (though we should realise that the single market is not quite the Eden of uniformity that it is cracked up to be: you try becoming a ski instructor in France, not that I have tried myself; and I discovered the other day that we have totally different standards in this country for flame retardant sofas, to say nothing of plugs).

But in a global marketplace, where we are trading in products that hadn’t been conceived even 5 years ago, serving markets that were poverty stricken 20 years ago, it seems extraordinary that the UK should remain lashed to the minute prescriptions of a regional trade bloc comprising only 6% of humanity wonderful as it may be – when it is not possible for us or any EU country to change those rules on our own.

In so far as we turn increasingly to the rest of the world – as we are – then we will be able to do our own thing.

We will be able, if we so choose, to fish our own fish, to ban the traffic in live animals, end payments to some of the richest landowners in Britain while supporting the rural economy; and we will be able to cut VAT on domestic fuel and other products.

We can simplify planning, and speed up public procurement, and perhaps we would then be faster in building the homes young people need; and we might decide that it was indeed absolutely necessary for every environmental impact assessment to monitor 2 life cycles of the snail or to build special swimming pools for newts – not all of which they use in my experience – but it would at least be our decision to do that.

Freed from EU regimes, we will not only be able to spend some of our Brexit bonus on the NHS; but as we develop new stem cell technology – in which this country has long been in the lead – it may be that we will need a new regulatory framework, scrupulous and moral, but not afraid to be different. The same point can be made of innovative financial services instruments, where the FCA already leads the way.

We will decide on laws not according to whether they help to build a united states of Europe, noble goal that that may be, but because we want to create the best platform for the economy to grow and to help people to live their lives

And the crucial thing is that when we are running ourselves – when all these freedoms open before us – we will no longer be able to blame Brussels for our woes, because our problems will be our responsibility and no-one else’s.

And indeed no one should think that Brexit is some economic panacea, any more than it is right to treat it as an economic pandemic. On the contrary, the success of Brexit will depend on what we make of it

And a success is what we will make of it – together.

And that very success will be the best thing for the whole of continental Europe – a powerful adjacent economy buying more Italian cars and German wine than ever before. I never tire of telling you we are the single biggest consumers not just of champagne but of prosecco as well and we want to go on in that role.

And so I say to my remaining Remainer friends – actually quite a numerous brunch – more people voted Brexit than have ever voted for anything in the history of this country.

And I say in all candour that if there were to be a second vote I think it would be another year of turmoil and wrangling and feuding in which the whole country would be the loser. So let’s not go there.

So let’s instead unite about what we all believe in – an outward-looking liberal global future for a confident United Kingdom. Because so much of this is about confidence and self-belief.

We love to run ourselves down – in fact we are Olympic gold medal winners in the sport of national self-deprecation.

And in the current bout of Brexchosis we are missing the truth: that it is our collective job to ensure that when the history books come to be written Brexit will be seen as just the latest way in which the British bucked the trend, took the initiative – and did something that responds to the real needs and opportunities that we face in the world today. That we had the courage to break free from an idea – however noble its origins – that had become outdated, at least for us.

Konrad Adenauer said that every nation had its genius, and that the genius of the British people was for democratic politics. He was right, but perhaps he didn’t go far enough.

Yes, it was the British people who saw that it was not good enough for Kings and princes to have absolute power and who began the tradition of parliamentary democracy in a model that is followed on every continent.

It was also Britain that led the industrial revolution and destroyed slavery and the British people who had the wit to see through the bogus attractions of protectionism and who campaigned for free trade that has become the single biggest engine of prosperity and progress.

And so I say to my constituent – don’t go to Canada, or anywhere else, lovely though Canada is.

This, the UK, is the country that is once again taking the lead in shaping the modern world. And it is our stubborn attachment to running ourselves that will end up making our society fairer and more prosperous.

In its insistence upon democracy, in its openness, its belief in the rights of the individual, in its protection of our legal system; its scepticism about excessive regulation; its potential for devolving power downwards; and in its fundamental refusal to discriminate between all the other peoples of the earth. And in its central distinction between a political loyalty and obedience to the EU institutions, and our eternal love for European culture, and values, and civilisation.

Brexit is not just the great liberal project of the age, but a project that over time can unite this whole country. So let’s do it with confidence together.

Thank you very much.

Boris Johnson – 2018 Speech in Bangladesh

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, in Bangladesh on 14 February 2018.

Thank you your Excellency, it’s wonderful to be here in Bangladesh on my first visit. This is a relationship that is incredibly important for the UK. It is hard to overstate the cultural, commercial and personal links between Britain and Bangladesh. We are proud to have I think 500,000 people of Bangladeshi origin in our country and I want to convey an important message, which is that once we are leaving the European Union, we will want to intensify our bilateral relations and do more in trade together, as well as of course trading with the rest of the Europe.

I also want to congratulate Bangladesh and the people and the government of Bangladesh on the way they have handled one of the biggest humanitarian crisis we have seen in the last few decades. I think that the government of Bangladesh has shown immense compassion, speed and mercy in dealing with a challenge that I think any government would have found very daunting indeed. I am going tomorrow to Cox’s Bazar to look at the camps, to look at some of the contribution that the UK is able to make to helping with that extraordinary Bangladeshi humanitarian effort.

And the third thing I want to say is that, we had an excellent meeting, I thought, with the Prime Minister. It went, it was very long and very friendly, and we discussed all the issues of cooperation between the UK and Bangladesh, the success of Bangladesh, as it rises up inexorably and the population grows more successful, we also discussed the importance of a free press and free, fair and democratic elections.

And I am delighted that the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be coming to our Commonwealth Summit in April where she is going to be majoring on female education, 12 years of quality female education which is again one of the areas where Bangladesh has got an absolutely outstanding track record.

So, thank you again for having me along today, see you all soon!

Boris Johnson – 2018 Speech on Ending the Ivory Trade

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, on 1 February 2018.

Good afternoon everybody, good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

It’s one of my themes at the moment that we don’t do enough to celebrate good news and today particularly is a moment for celebration. Because China has struck a blow against elephant poachers by closing down its domestic ivory market, which is currently the largest in the world.

And provided that ban is fully enforced, and provided the ivory trade isn’t allowed simply to relocate to Vietnam or Laos or Burma or indeed anywhere else – and I’m afraid there are warning signs that that is already happening – then China’s enlightened and far-sighted decision will give humanity a better chance of halting and eventually reversing the tragic decline of the African elephant.

And this has really come in the nick of time. I first went to Africa 40 years ago as a child, and I remember seeing great herds in the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara and I was even trapped in a latrine I seem to remember for about an hour.

Anyway, more than 2 thirds of those animals are now gone. Africa is down to 415,000, even at the most generous count, and in the last 12 years the pace of slaughter has accelerated. We have lost 110,000 since 2006, including half of all the elephants in East Africa; 2 thirds in Tanzania.

It would be absolutely unconscionable to sit back and watch, as though we were powerless or indifferent to the disappearance of charismatic megafauna in Africa.

If we do nothing, there really is a risk that our grandchildren will grow up in a world without wild elephants and if that calamity were to come about, they will look at these photographs of giant herds, and they will point accusing fingers at all of us and ask you and me – why we were so careless and neglectful as to let this happen. And why we failed to save the African elephant from extirpation?

And it is a terrible fact that our planet is now enduring what may be the sixth mass extinction of species. Unlike previous extinctions – –homo sapiens were not around for the previous 5, so we can’t take the blame for those – but this particular one.

In the last century, 500 species have vanished from the earth, and if nature was allowed to take its course – then the normal rate of extinctions over a hundred years would be only 2 species.

So there is nothing inevitable, nothing biologically preprogrammed, about the tragedy taking place around us. On the contrary, we can protect our planet from being despoiled, and we can rescue wildlife from destruction. The only question is whether we have the collective will?

And I believe that today is a manifestation of that will.

I think it is great that the UK and China are united in our perspective on this policy – and by the way, I think we’re more forward looking and ambitious in our ban than the European Union itself, about which I make no complaint except they have a President called Tusk so you would have thought they would be sympathetic on this ban – the UK and China together are taking this forward.

And we in London, in October, we will be co-hosting with Defra, with other departments, an international conference on combating illegal wildlife trade which threatens the survival of many, many endangered species; pangolins, rhinos, tigers, and many more.

And whilst I’m on the subject of ivory, don’t forget, as we work to save the elephant, the threat then moves across to the hippo, and the narwhal, and other bearers of ivory in their jaws.

And so I am very glad to say that earlier today also that the Hong Kong Legislative Council voted to end the Territory’s ivory trade by 2021, with no compensation for dealers.

I think we should all be very encouraged from China’s decision not only because of the practical impact we hope it will have, but because it demonstrates the birth of a new global consensus – based on the collective will of the United Nations – that buying or selling ivory is no longer acceptable anywhere and human beings, wherever we may live, share the same obligation to do what we must to protect the magnificent animals that are humanity’s joint inheritance.

Thank you.

Boris Johnson – 2018 Speech on Iran Nuclear Deal

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, on 11 January 2018.

Thank you very much. I’m really going to echo what [German Foreign Minister] Sigmar Gabriel and [French Foreign Minister] Jean-Yves Le Drian have already said. This was a very important meeting. It’s very important that as Europeans we come together to express a common view.

That is, number one, that we greatly value the JCPoA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action], the nuclear deal with Iran, we think it is a considerable diplomatic accomplishment. It’s a way of stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. As my colleagues have said, Iran is in compliance with this agreement according to the International Atomic Energy Authority, and that is very, very important to us.

But it is also clearly important to build worldwide support for this deal and that Iran should be able to show, as my colleagues have said, that it is a good neighbour in the region. That’s why it’s legitimate and right that we should, in parallel, not connected with the JCPoA, but in parallel, focus on what Iran can do to resolve the appalling crisis in Yemen, to help push forward a peace in Syria and to help resolve other questions in the region.

I want to stress, just in conclusion, that I don’t think anybody has so far produced a better alternative to the JCPoA as a way of preventing the Iranians from going ahead with their acquisition of a nuclear capability. I don’t think anybody has come up with a better idea. And I think it is incumbent on those who oppose the JCPoA to come up with that better solution, because we haven’t seen it so far.

I also think that if we can keep the deal going, which I very much hope that we can, that the Iranian people should see the economic benefits that will flow from the JCPoA. And that’s why the UK government together with our friends and partners in France and Germany, and of course other EU countries and [EU High Representative] Federica Mogherini, will continue to work for the continuation of the JCPoA.

Boris Johnson – 2017 Statement to Parliament on Zimbabwe

Below is the text of the statement made by Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, to the House of Commons on 15 November 2017.

In the early hours of this morning, soldiers from the Zimbabwean army deployed in central Harare, taking control of state television, surrounding government ministries, and sealing off Robert Mugabe’s official and private residences.

At 1:26am local time, a military officer appeared on state television and declared that the army was taking what he called “targeted action” against the “criminals” around Mugabe. Several government ministers – all of them political allies of Grace Mugabe – are reported to have been arrested.

At 2:30am gunfire was heard in the northern suburb of Harare where Mugabe has a private mansion. Areas of the central business district have been sealed off by armoured personnel carriers.

Our Embassy in Harare has been monitoring the situation carefully throughout the night, supported by staff in the Foreign Office. About 20,000 Britons live in Zimbabwe and I can reassure the House that so far we have received no reports of any British nationals being injured.

We have updated our travel advice to recommend that any Britons in Harare should remain in their homes or other accommodation until the situation becomes clearer. All of our Zimbabwean and UK-based embassy staff and their families are accounted for.

And I will say frankly to the House that we cannot tell how developments in Zimbabwe will play out in the days ahead – and we do not know if this marks the downfall of Mugabe or not. We call for calm and restraint.

The events of the last 24 hours are the latest escalation of months of brutal infighting within the ruling ZANU-PF party, including the sacking of a vice-president, the purging of his followers and the apparent positioning of Grace Mugabe as a contender to replace her 93-year-old husband.

Honourable Members on all sides of the House have taken a deep interest in Zimbabwe for many years – and I pay tribute to the courage and persistence of the Honourable Member for Vauxhall, who has tirelessly exposed the crimes of the Mugabe regime, visiting the country herself during some of its worst moments.

And this country – under governments of all parties – has followed the same unwavering principles in our approach towards Zimbabwe.

First and foremost, we will never forget our profound ties of history and friendship with that beautiful country, accurately described as the “jewel of Africa”.

In that spirit, all that Britain has ever wanted is for Zimbabweans to be able to decide their own future in free and fair elections.

Mugabe’s consuming ambition was always to deny them that choice. The House will remember the brutal litany of his 37 years in office: the elections he rigged and stole, the murder and torture of his opponents, the illegal seizure of land, leading to the worst hyperinflation in recorded history – measured in the billions of percentage points – and forcing the abolition of the Zimbabwean Dollar.

And all the while, his followers were looting and plundering a richly-endowed country, so that Zimbabweans today are, per capita, poorer than they were at independence in 1980, leaving many dependent on the health care, education and food aid provided by DFID.

Britain has always wanted the Zimbabwean people to be masters of their fate, and for any political change to be peaceful, lawful and constitutional.

Authoritarian rule, whether in Zimbabwe or anywhere else, should have no place in Africa. There is only one rightful way for Zimbabwe to achieve a legitimate government and that is through free and fair elections, held in accordance with the country’s constitution.

And these elections are due to be held in the first half of next year, and we will do all we can, with our international partners, to ensure this provides a genuine opportunity for all Zimbabweans to decide their own future. That is what we shall urge on all parties, and I will speak to the Deputy President of South Africa later today.

Every Honourable Member will follow the scenes in Harare with goodwill and sympathy for Zimbabwe’s long-suffering people, and I undertake to keep the House updated as events unfold.