Britain's Johnson Stands Firm On Immigration Talk

Britain's Johnson stands firm on immigration talk

LONDON, Dec 2, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 02nd Dec, 2016 ) - British foreign minister Boris Johnson, a leading Brexit campaigner, on Friday denied contradicting government policy on immigration during private conversations with EU ambassadors, saying "we have to have control". Answering questions after his first keynote speech on foreign affairs, Johnson defended his support for free movement of people from the European Union -- which Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to end as Britain leaves the bloc.

"I'm a liberal internationalist. I believe that immigration can do great things and when I was mayor of this great city I saw the strength and dynamism that immigration helped to give to the economy," the former London mayor said. "But what I also said at that breakfast (with ambassadors), is we have to have control." Asked by a French journalist about the suggestion that he was saying one thing in private and another in public, Johnson replied in French "not at all".

Sky news on Wednesday quoted four ambassadors as saying Johnson privately told them he supports freedom of movement, despite leading a campaign that made ending mass migration a key issue ahead of the June referendum on EU membership. "Boris Johnson has been openly telling us that he is personally in favour of free movement," one diplomat was quoted as saying on condition of anonymity. Nick Clegg, former leader of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, accused Johnson of "treating voters like fools".

Speaking about Brexit in his speech at the Chatham House think tank, Johnson said observers had been "too quick to draw comparisons with populist movements across the world". "There are many people who voted to leave the EU not because they dislike or fear foreigners, but because they believe in democracy... Brexit emphatically does not mean a Britain that turns in on herself," he said.