September 30, 2017 / 7:28 AM / 2 months ago

Britain's Boris Johnson wants maximum two-year Brexit transition

LONDON (Reuters) - British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has 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.

Boris Johnson, Britain's Foreign Secretary, arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London, September 21, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

In an interview with The Sun newspaper on Saturday, on the eve of the governing Conservative Party’s annual conference, Johnson detailed four “red lines” for Brexit that appear to go beyond the agreed position of Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet.

In addition to a two-year maximum transition, he said the UK should not accept new EU or European Court of Justice rulings during transition, must not make payments for single market access when the transition ends, and should not agree to shadow EU regulations to gain access.

Johnson also again strayed from his Foreign Office brief. He said Britain’s current national minimum wage of 7.50 pounds an hour, rising to 9 pounds by 2020, was “not enough”, and called for public sector employees to get a pay rise, funded by layoffs.

But he told the newspaper speculation about his leadership intentions had been “massively” overdone.

“Am I impatient about it (Brexit), 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.

“BACKSEAT DRIVING”

Some of Johnson’s cabinet colleagues recently accused him of “backseat driving” on Brexit after setting out his vision for the UK’s future outside the EU in a 4,300-word newspaper article just days before a key speech by the prime minister.

In her speech in the Italian city of 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 in the article on Saturday.

However, in an interview with The Times newspaper, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said that “over optimism” 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 her poor showing in the June election.

Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Andrew Bolton

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