While David Davis has hogged the headlines recently, Boris Johnson has been slowly losing his cool over Brexit and lost it, just a little bit, when addressing Tory activists at the Conservative Way Forward on Wednesday. It was a candid speech but, with recording devices built into every smartphone, it was hardly surprising that it should have leaked. Perhaps BoJo, fed up with Theresa May’s Brexit backsliding, wanted it to leak. The Times and BuzzFeed have the story, and here are the best quotes.
On HM Treasury
“What they don’t want is friction at the borders. They don’t want any disruption. So they’re sacrificing all the medium and long-term gains amid fear of short-term disruption . . . That fear of short- term disruption has become so huge in people’s minds that they’re turning them all wet. Project Fear is really working on them. They’re terrified of this nonsense. It’s all mumbo jumbo. In the short term it is probably true that there will be some dislocation, yeah, yeah of course. There will be some bumps on the road. But unless you go through that, you won’t have any of the advantages.
“I am increasingly admiring of Donald Trump. I have become more and more convinced that there is method in his madness.” And if he did Brexit, “he’d go in bloody hard… There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”
Putin feels a deep sense of shame that he’s leader of a country that has been so greatly reduced in its global importance. When I was a kid, Russia really mattered. It’s now got an economy about the size of Australia. Yeah, they’ve they’ve got a lot of nuclear weapons, but it’s real importance in the world is greatly [diminished]. Putin’s a revanchist. He wants to cause trouble. He wants to upset people like us… One of the problems is Russia is so good at spreading violence. They’re brilliant at it. We need to identify it and call it out.”
We need to engage with China diplomatically, treat China as our friend and our partner, but also recognise that they are our commercial rivals. And they will try to stiff us…. The Americans have run the tech world for decades. Microsoft, Google, Apple, blah, blah, blah — we’re used to them winning. No, no, no. The Chinese are about to win. They’ve got 5G. They’ve found out a way. Everybody’s going to be getting stuff on their gizmos through the Chinese system and not the American system. So watch out for that one.”
Of course we’ve got to help the Americans do this thing…. I just talked to Mike Pompeo, my counterpart in the US State Department. What they want us to do is to use our nuclear expertise to dismantle Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear missile. That’s what he asked me to do today
On Remainers in government
“What they don’t want is friction at the borders. They don’t want any disruption of the economy. So they’re sacrificing all the medium and long-term gains out of fear of short-term disruption. Do you see what I’m saying? The fear of short-term disruption has become so huge in people’s minds that they’ve turned into a quivering wreck. They’re terrified of this nonsense. It’s mumbo jumbo.”
On Brexit talks
“Concentrate on maximum facilitation. That’s what we want. Solve the technical problem. We can easily find a solution that allows us to have trade that is frictionless as possible… with our continental friends and partners while still be able to do free trade deals. It’s not beyond the wit of man… I think Theresa is going to go into a phase where we are much more combative with Brussels.. You’ve got to face the fact there may now be a meltdown. OK? I don’t want anybody to panic during the meltdown. No panic. Pro bono publico, no bloody panic. It’s going to be all right in the end.”
And on Brexit
“So when we talk about moving to maximum facilitation for customs, I am of the view it will be fine. [Brexit] will happen and I think it will be irreversible. The risk is it will not be the one we want and the risk is that we will end up in a sort of anteroom of the EU, with an orbit around the EU, in a customs union and to a large extent in the single market. So not really having full freedom on our trade policy, our tariffs schedules, and not having freedom with our regulatory framework either.”