British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson leaves after posing with NATO foreign ministers for a group photo within a North Atlantic Council (NAC) meeting at the level of Foreign Ministers, at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 31, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has reiterated that the UK’s contribution to European security is “unconditional.”
Johnson made the remarks in an interview with France’s Le Figaro newspaper published on Saturday, after the secretary arrived in Brussels for talks with NATO foreign ministers.
He said that the UK’s security ties to the EU will not be used as a leverage to secure a post-Brexit EU trade deal.
“We regard the UK’s traditional and historic contribution to the security and stability of Europe as something that is unconditional,” he said in the interview.
“We will continue to make this contribution because we believe it is good for the whole of Europe and indeed of the world. It’s in our interests as much as anybody else’s and we hope this will be one of the ways in which we can continue to work very closely (with the EU) in a deep and special partnership,” he added.
The foreign secretary said what Britain wanted was “a strong EU buttressed by a strong UK.”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Theresa May said London’s cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened if Britain left the bloc European without a new deal on trade and other matters.
British Prime Minister Theresa May (Photo by AFP)
But Brexit minister David Davis said the British prime minister’s words do not amount to a threat.
“This is a statement of the fact that this will be harmful for both of us (Britain and the EU) … if we don’t get a deal. It’s an argument for having a deal,” he said on Thursday.
Launching the process of Britain’s exit from the EU, popularly known as Brexit, was announced by Prime Minister May on Wednesday at the UK Parliament, after more than 40 years of membership in the bloc.
On behalf of May, British Ambassador to the EU Tim Barrow hand-delivered a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk in Brussels to officially notify the EU of Britain’s decision to withdraw from the bloc.
Brussels is expected to deliver its response after a summit of EU leaders on April 29 to adopt their own guidelines, possibly taking weeks before formal talks start.
The United Kingdom held a referendum last June in which Britons voted by a 52-48 percent margin to leave the EU, the first member state ever to do so.
However, there is a chance that the Brexit negotiations will break down and the UK will be forced to exit the EU without any deal in place.
The EU is determined to preserve its own unity and has said that any Brexit agreement must not encourage other member states to leave the bloc.
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