Brexit: Boris Johnson calls for Leave positives


Boris Johnson has accused the government of failing to explain how the vote to leave the EU can be made to work in the UK’s interests.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said this could not wait until there was a new prime minister in September.

He also said the Leave vote had led to “a kind of hysteria, a contagious mourning” among part of the population.

It is the MP’s first detailed comments since he ruled himself out of the race to be the next Conservative leader.

‘Contagious mourning’

In his latest weekly Telegraph column, Mr Johnson said the Remain side’s portrayal of Britain’s place outside the EU had led to a “contagious mourning” like that which followed the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

But, he said, the fears of people protesting against Brexit were “wildly overdone”.

“The reality is that the stock market has not plunged, as some said it would – far from it,” he wrote.

“The FTSE is higher than when the vote took place. There has been no emergency budget, and nor will there be.

“But the crowds of young people are experiencing the last psychological tremors of Project Fear – perhaps the most thoroughgoing government attempt to manipulate public opinion since the run-up to the Iraq War.”

Image caption Michael Gove has been accused of betraying Mr Johnson after launching his own leadership bid

Mr Johnson called on the government to come up with a “clear statement” of “basic truths” about leaving the EU.

Among a list of five points of his own, Mr Johnson said it was “overwhelmingly in the economic interests of the other EU countries to do a free-trade deal, with zero tariffs and quotas, while we extricate ourselves from the EU law-making system”.

In response, Downing Street said action had been taken to reassure markets and a Whitehall unit would produce proposals for Britain’s withdrawal.

Mr Johnson’s column did not make any reference to Michael Gove, his fellow architect of the Vote Leave campaign who has been accused by some of betraying Mr Johnson by running for the party leadership.

Mr Johnson had been the odds-on favourite to become the next leader of the Conservatives but on 30 June announced he did not believe he could provide the leadership or unity needed.

Home Secretary Theresa May has since become the favourite in a contest that also includes Mr Gove, the justice secretary, energy minister Andrea Leadsom, Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb and former defence secretary Liam Fox.

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Who’s in the running?

Home Secretary Theresa May: The 59-year-old has replaced Boris Johnson as the bookies’ favourite to win the contest. She’s held the Home Office brief – often something of a poisoned chalice – since 2010, and is a former Tory party chairman. She says she can offer the “strong leadership” and unity the UK needs, and promised a “positive vision” for the country’s future. She backed staying in the EU. Theresa May profile

Justice Secretary Michael Gove: The 48-year-old former newspaper columnist was a key figure in the party’s modernisation that led to its return to power in 2010. He was a reforming, if controversial, education secretary between 2010 and 2014, and now holds the Ministry of Justice brief. He was a leading player in the Brexit campaign – which put a strain on his close friendship with David Cameron. He has pitched himself as the candidate that can provide “unity and change”. Michael Gove profile

Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb: The 43-year-old was promoted to the cabinet in 2014 as Welsh secretary, and boosted his profile earlier this year when he took over as work and pensions secretary. A rising star of the Tory party he has promised to unite the party and country following the referendum result and provide stability. Raised on a council estate by a single mother, he has a back story to which many Tory MPs are attracted. Backed Remain. Stephen Crabb profile

Energy minister Andrea Leadsom: The 53-year-old former banker and fund manager was one of the stars of the Leave campaign. A former district councillor, she became MP for South Northamptonshire in 2010 and – after serving as a junior Treasury minister and as a member of the Treasury select committee – she was made a junior minister in the energy and climate change department in May last year. Andrea Leadsom profile

Former cabinet minister Liam Fox: It’s second time around for the 54-year-old ex-defence secretary and GP, who came a close third in the 2005 leadership contest. His cabinet career was cut short in 2011 when he resigned following a lobbying row. A Brexit campaigner, and on the right of the party, he has said whoever becomes PM must accept “the instruction” of the British people and not “try to backslide” over EU membership. Liam Fox profile