Brexit leader Boris Johnson says no rush to pull Britain out of the EU, urges Brexiters to 'build bridges'

Boris Johnson addresses the media after their Vote Leave campaign won the United Kingdom's EU referendum, in London on June 24, 2016.
Boris Johnson addresses the media after their Vote Leave campaign won the United Kingdom's EU referendum, in London on June 24, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (AFP) - Top Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson said there was no need to rush pulling Britain out of the European Union, as he sought to reassure Britons abroad and EU citizens in Britain with a message of continuity on Monday (June 27).

Mr Johnson also urged Brexit backers to "build bridges" with those who voted for Britain to stay in the EU after Thursday's bitterly divisive referendum and played down the prospects of Scottish independence.

"The only change - and it will not come in any great rush - is that the UK will extricate itself from the EU's extraordinary and opaque system of legislation," Mr Johnson wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph.

"EU citizens living in this country will have their rights fully protected, and the same goes for British citizens living in the EU," wrote Mr Johnson, the former mayor of London and a favourite to succeed the outgoing Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.

"British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and settle down," he said.


Britons voted by 52 per cent to 48 per cent in favour of leaving the European Union in a vote that sent shockwaves through the financial markets, toppled Mr Cameron and put world leaders in crisis mode.

But Mr Johnson said Britain would retain close ties with Europe despite warnings during the campaign from those who wanted Britain to stay in the EU.

"There will still be intense and intensifying European cooperation and partnership in a huge number of fields: the arts, the sciences, the universities, and on improving the environment," he said.

Mr Johnson also urged Brexit supporters to "build bridges" with Britons who had supported staying.

"They are our neighbours, brothers and sisters who did what they passionately believe was right.

"We must reach out, we must heal, we must build bridges - because it is clear that some have feelings of dismay, and of loss, and confusion," he wrote.

But he added that the "climate of apprehension" was caused by exaggerated warnings during the campaign.

"At home and abroad, the negative consequences are being wildly overdone, and the upside is being ignored," he said.

He also reacted to Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's statement that a new independence referendum within two years was now "highly likely" because most Scots had voted to stay in the EU.

"We had one Scotland referendum in 2014, and I do not detect any real appetite to have another one soon.

"It goes without saying that we are much better together in forging a new and better relationship with the EU - based on free trade and partnership, rather than a federal system," he said.