LONDON (Reuters) – British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said a transition period from the European Union after Britain’s exit from the bloc in March 2019 must not last more than two years.
In an interview with The Sun newspaper ahead of the ruling Conservative Party’s annual conference next week, Johnson also said the transition period should be under existing arrangements and ruled out paying for future access to the EU single market.
“Am I impatient about it, do I want to get it done as fast as possible? Yes, absolutely. Do I want the delay to go on longer than two years? Not a second more,” Johnson was quoted as saying in the tabloid newspaper.
He also said speculation about his leadership intentions had been “massively” overdone.
Earlier this month, some of Johnson’s cabinet colleagues said he was “backseat driving” on Brexit after setting out his vision of the UK’s future outside of the EU days before a key speech by Prime Minister Theresa May.
In the speech in Florence on Sept. 22 May outlined a transition period of around two years of trading on the same terms, but no payments for single market access.
“The crucial thing I want to get over to Sun readers about Brexit is that it is going to be great and we need to believe in ourselves and believe we can do it. It is unstoppable,” Johnson said.
However, in an interview with The Times newspaper, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said that “overoptimism” about Britain’s future outside the EU “sells people short” and called for “serious people” to take charge of Brexit.
At the Conservative party conference in Manchester, May will set out plans to build “a road to a better future” for Britain, hoping to head off a rebellion over her handling of Brexit and the June election.
Reporting by James Davey; editing by Alexander Smith