Boris Johnson backs Brexit pressure campaign aimed at gaining control over UK borders

British Foreign Secretary records message in support of group calling for speedy exit from EU

Boris Johnson

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives for an informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Bratislava on Friday | Photo: PA Images

Boris Johnson is to spearhead a potentially confrontational new move by leading Brexit campaigners to force Theresa May to deliver on the EU referendum result.

The British Foreign Secretary is backing a new campaign, Change Britain, made up of major Vote Leave figures including senior Tories such as Michael Gove, Steve Hilton and Graham Brady, as well as Labour's Gisela Stuart and Frank Field.

In a statement that appears to put pressure on the Prime Minister to deliver on Brexit, the campaign says its aims are to "return control over borders, laws, money and trade from the EU to the UK".

The launch comes with a video message from Mr Johnson, in which he says: "On June 23rd, the people of this country voted to leave the European Union and they voted for change. 

"They did so by a clear majority. But there were many people who also voted for remain.

"So it's absolutely vital that we work together, Leavers and Remainers, as we seize the opportunities that this country now has to forge a positive and exciting new relationship not just with the European Union but also with the rest of the world; changing Britain and making it global again.

"Now more than ever we need to show the British people that as politicians we are listening to what they have to say."

 
 

Mr Johnson's involvement in Change Britain comes just days after the PM slapped down the Foreign Secretary by vetoing his call for an Australian points-based immigration system.

Then, Number 10 rebuked Brexit Secretary David Davis after he told MPs it was "very improbable" that the UK would remain a member of the single market.

The campaigners say they are urging Leave and Remain supporters to move on from the referendum, work together and get on with the job of making the UK's exit from the EU a success.  

They say they have joined forces with businesspeople and academics to call for the result to be respected and to support the Government in its drive to deliver on its pledge that "Brexit means Brexit".

Challenge to PM

But the campaign will inevitably be seen as a challenge to the Prime Minister as she grapples with negotiations with Brussels chiefs and other European leaders before triggering Article 50 to begin the formal process of leaving the EU.

The new campaign will be chaired by Gisela Stuart, who said: "The vote means this country will undergo the biggest change in 40 years in our diplomatic, trade and economic relationships.

"It also creates a unique opportunity to review our democratic and constitutional arrangements. Making the most of these opportunities is going to take careful, hard work.

"The referendum also marked a more profound political change than a change of occupancy in Downing Street. It has forced us to acknowledge that people in large sections of the UK have lost faith in political parties and the Westminster elite.

"While millions in this country enjoy unprecedented prosperity and freedoms, many millions more feel despair at their sense of exclusion and diminishing prospects.

"The referendum debate divided families and friends and there is still some of the feeling of disorientation that ran through July as we all came to terms with the enormity of the change.

"Some on both sides seem attracted to refighting old battles, but the British people are impatient for us to roll up our sleeves and get down to work.

"This isn't a time for Leavers and Remainers; now is a time for Doers."