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15 July 2016

Boris Johnson says Brexit vote does not mean leaving Europe ‘in any sense’

braxitBoris Johnson has said the result of the EU referendum must be respected – but that it did not mean leaving Europe “in any sense”.

Speaking outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the former London mayor set out his vision for Britain to be a more “global player”.

He said: “I set out what I think that we need to be doing and what we need to be focusing on, and that is reshaping Britain’s global profile and identity as a great global player.

“And on Europe clearly we have to give effect to the will of people in the referendum, but that does not mean in any sense, leaving Europe.

“There is a massive difference between leaving the EU and our relations with Europe, which if anything I think are going to be intensified and built up at an intergovernmental level.”

Mr Johnson, a former journalist who became MP for Henley in 2001 and was mayor of London for eight years, was chosen for the post yesterday by Prime Minister Theresa May on her inaugural day in office.

His appointment to the Cabinet office has raised eyebrows, with some referring to his controversial comments including the recent suggestion Barack Obama might hold a grudge against Britain because of his “part-Kenyan” heritage.

Labour MP David Lammy summed up the reaction to Mr Johnson’s appointment in a tweet, in which he wrote: “Boris Johnson as our Foreign Secretary? Is this a bad dream? An elaborate wind up? Please God help us”.

Simon McDonald, Under-Secretary of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, tweeted a picture of Mr Johnson’s first meeting with staff as Foreign Secretary on Thursday.

“Over 800 came to Boris Johnson’s first all staff meeting [at the] Foreign Office. Standing room only. 1000s overseas listened in,” he wrote.

Foreign Secretary, short for Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, is one of the four most senior positions in the UK government.

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