Boris Johnson warned being tough on EU may backfire – PM taking risky approach

Britain’s global role discussed by Helle Thorning-Schmidt

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Philip Rycroft, former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU, warned Boris Johnson over the Government’s tough stance on the EU. He insisted the row over goods moving from mainland Europe to Northern Ireland needed to be resolved carefully. He noted that post-Brexit Britain was attempting to define itself but should be wary of “short-sighted and risky” tactics by being too hard on Brussels.

Mr Rycroft said: “I think the UK, the whole concept of global Britain, showing leadership through the G7, the UK has to find its place in a post-Brexit world.

“That will depend on people trusting the UK as a reliable international partner.”

Mr Rycroft noted he believed the UK Government was playing up too much for the voters rather than focussing on future EU relations.

He said: “People will be watching this very carefully.

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“I think part of the problem for the UK Government is that being tough on the EU, particularly a row that can be reduced very simplistically to an argue about sausages, I think plays with a lot of the voters.

“Politically the UK will think this tough stance works for them, I think that is short-sighted and risky.”

It comes as the UK Government has been warned it could permanently damage relations with European Union member states.

Former Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt reflected on the UK’s ability to connect nations together for cooperation.

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While speaking to BBC’s Nick Robinson she argued the UK was creating enemies in Europe and this could reduce its impact on the global platform.

She said: “I think Britain has been confused about its place in the world for the last 60 years.

“I do think that Britain has the potential to be a connector of nations because of its history and because of its commitment to liberal democracy and the rule of law.

“All of these things are so important.

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“I must say that looking at it right now, I don’t see that as being just something that could happen over the next coming months or years.”

She added: “I do think that when you make yourselves small in Europe and make enemies in Europe it is hard to be a convener.

“Also by the way that you talk about other European nations and when you also have a weaker relationship with the US than you used to have, I think it is then hard to be a convener.” 

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