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UK is the 'supercharged' free trade superman, British PM Johnson says

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LONDON (Reuters) - Britain can be the superman of free trade which protectionists are trying to choke but it will not seek to undermine the European Union with a race to the bottom, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.

“Humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange,” Johnson said in the Painted Hall at the hospital of the Greenwich Royal Naval College at Greenwich where grand 18th Century paintings celebrate Britain’s prosperity and naval power.

“Some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with his cloak flowing as the supercharged champion of the right of populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other,” he said.

“I am here to warn you today that this beneficial magic is fading,” Johnson added. “Free trade is being choked, and that is no fault of the people, that is no fault of individual consumers,” he said. “I’m afraid it is the politicians who are failing to lead, the mercantilists are everywhere, the protectionists are gaining ground.”

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and William James; writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden