UK Politics

Boris Johnson sets out post-Brexit foreign policy vision

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Media captionForeign Secretary Boris Johnson: "We will be working very closely with... the new departments for international trade and for the withdrawal from the EU"

New Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has set out his vision for Britain to be a "great global player".

The former London mayor said Brexit did not mean Britain would be leaving Europe, just "leaving the EU".

He said he had received a call from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who called for "more Britain abroad".

Mr Johnson, who led the campaign to get the UK out of the EU, was made foreign secretary by new PM Theresa May.

He said he had given a speech to 700 staff at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in Whitehall, setting out what his priorities would be.

"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."

'Lying' accusation

Mr Johnson, who dramatically pulled out of the Tory leadership race two weeks ago, was asked what the Foreign Office would be responsible for under his leadership, with major functions handed to the new departments created to handle withdrawal from the EU and promote international trade.

"It is very important that people should realise when you leave Heathrow, when you leave Dover, a British citizen is basically the responsibility of the Foreign Office, our diplomacy is run by the Foreign Office," he told BBC News.

"But we will be working very closely as you can imagine with the new departments for international trade and for the withdrawal from the EU and they will be borrowing some of our staff as is only proper.

"But there is a huge opportunity and... I have been very struck by how excited and how positive people here are about the opportunities for Britain."

Mr Johnson has been accused by France's foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault of "lying" to the British people during the EU referendum campaign.

Asked for a response to Mr Ayrault's remarks, and his own record of undiplomatic comments, Mr Johnson said it was "inevitable that there would be a certain amount of plaster coming off the ceilings in the Chancelleries of Europe" after Britain's Brexit vote, and they were "making their views known in a free and frank way".

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