Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has delivered a speech emphatically calling for a "global" post-Brexit Britain that severs its institutional ties with the European Union, expressing his most public disagreement yet with Prime Minister Theresa May's handling of Britain's extrication from the bloc.
Speaking at the conservative-leaning Policy Exchange think tank, Mr. Johnson acknowledged that many in Britain had still not accepted the result of the 2016 referendum but dismissed the possibility of a second vote which would further divide the country and hit out at figures trying to undermine the Brexit process.
"In some cases I detect a hardening of the mood and a deepening of the anger. I feel some people are becoming ever more determined to stop Brexit, to reverse the referendum vote of June 23 2016 and to frustrate the will of the people. I believe that would be a disastrous mistake that would lead to permanent and ineradicable feelings of betrayal. We cannot and will not let it happen," he said.
While repeatedly referring back to the government's position on leaving the Single Market and Customs Union as outlined by Prime Minister Theresa May, the Foreign Secretary's views are a marked contrast to those of the Chancellor Phillip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd who favor maintaining close institutional ties to the bloc.
When questioned, the Foreign Secretary clarified that he supported the UK maintaining so-called "regulatory convergence" with EU industry standards during the transitional period in which Britain leaves the EU, but that ultimately Britain could not remain in the Customs Union or the Single Market calling it "No Eden of uniformity," which would prohibit Britain from forging independent trading relationships around the world.
"It would be absurd, as Theresa May said in her Lancaster House and her Florence speeches which now have the lapidary status of the Codes of Hammurabi or Moses, it would absurd if we were to obey laws over which we have no say and no vote."
At the same time as calling on the UK to adopt a global trading posture rather than a primarily European one, he also called for more stringent control over immigration levels to the United Kingdom.
"We must remain a magnet for ambition and drive, but we also need to ask ourselves some hard questions about the impact of 20 years of uncontrolled immigration by low-skilled, low-wage workers and what many see as the consequent suppression of wages the failure to invest properly in the skills of indigenous young people."
The Foreign Secretary also called for a continued intimate military relationship with the continent.
"Our commitment to the defense of Europe is unconditional and immovable. It makes perfect sense for us to continue to be intimately involved in European foreign and security policy. It would be illogical not to discuss such measures as sanctions together. We will continue to be Europeans both practically and psychologically."
The United Kingdom is slated to leave the EU in March 2019 with a transitional agreement still to be decided between London and Brussels covering industrial standards and the legal status of European citizens living in Britain as well as UK citizens resident in Europe.