Boris Johnson casts himself as One Nation Tory leadership candidate


Boris Johnson has insisted the UK will always be part of Europe and enjoy "intensifying" co-operation with other nations, as he set out his vision of post-Brexit Britain.

The Leave campaign figurehead sought to reassure Remain voters for the future and told his fellow Out supporters they must accept the 52-48 referendum win was "not entirely overwhelming".

Mr Johnson has broken cover for the first time since reacting to the referendum result to set out how the country may look if he wins the race to succeed David Cameron as prime minister.

Amid clamour for the Leave campaign's leaders to set out what happens next, Mr Johnson claimed Britain will be able to introduce a points-based immigration system while maintaining "access" to the European single market.

Mr Johnson, who is the favourite to succeed Mr Cameron, insisted "the only change" will be to free the country from the EU's "extraordinary and opaque" laws, which "will not come in any great rush".

And he dismissed Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's calls for a second independence referendum, insisting he did not "detect any real appetite" for one, while claiming Britain can now have a "new and better" relationship with the EU based on free trade.

Mr Johnson also signalled how he may cast himself in the Tory leadership election, saying: "We must pursue actively the one-nation policies that are among David Cameron's fine legacy, such as his campaigns on the living wage and life chances."

But with many observers calling for an indication of how the vote to Leave the EU will be delivered, Mr Johnson suggested he would seek to unify a divided nation.

Writing his weekly column in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson said: "There were more than 16 million who wanted to remain.

"They are our neighbours, brothers and sisters who did what they passionately believe was right. In a democracy majorities may decide but everyone is of equal value.

"We who are part of this narrow majority must do everything we can to reassure the Remainers.

"We must reach out, we must heal, we must build bridges - because it is clear that some have feelings of dismay, and of loss, and confusion."

Mr Johnson expanded on his vision of post-Brexit Britain, writing: "I cannot stress too much that Britain is part of Europe, and always will be.

"There will still be intense and intensifying European co-operation and partnership in a huge number of fields: the arts, the sciences, the universities, and on improving the environment.

"EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU.

"British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down. As the German equivalent of the CBI - the BDI - has very sensibly reminded us, there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market."

He went on: "The only change - and it will not come in any great rush - is that the UK will extricate itself from the EU's extraordinary and opaque system of legislation: the vast and growing corpus of law enacted by a European Court of Justice from which there can be no appeal.

"This will bring not threats, but golden opportunities for this country - to pass laws and set taxes according to the needs of the UK.

"Yes, the Government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy, with a balanced and humane points-based system to suit the needs of business and industry.

"Yes, there will be a substantial sum of money which we will no longer send to Brussels, but which could be used on priorities such as the NHS. Yes, we will be able to do free trade deals with the growth economies of the world in a way that is currently forbidden."