Phil Hogan says Boris Johnson is ‘clearly at odds’ with Theresa May

Agriculture Commissioner warns first phase of Brexit negotiations may be delayed

EU commissioner Phil Hogan has accused British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson of indulging in "referendum rhetoric" over Brexit.

Mr Hogan said he expects the British prime minister Theresa May to correct some of the statements made by Mr Johnson in his 4,000 word essay which was published in The Daily Telegraph.

He suggested Mr Johnson’s views on Brexit were “completely at odds” with the views of Ms May on the issue and that she will use her speech in Florence on Friday to correct some of the statements he made.

“He is either a member of the UK Government in a co-ordinated way about these negotiations or he is not,” Mr Hogan maintained.


Mr Hogan also suggested that the “clock is ticking” for the UK and the first phase of negotiations which were supposed to be concluded next month may not be concluded until December.

“A lot will depend on what prime minister May will say tomorrow,” he said.

Among the things Mr Johnson said was repeating the campaign pledge that £350 million will be coming back to Britain as a result of Brexit to be spent on the National Health Service (NHS) or elsewhere in the British economy.

"He hasn't realised that his own ministers have said that this will not happen," Mr Hogan said at the National Ploughing Championships on Thursday.

“He hasn’t realised that Mr Farage walked away from that commitment the day after the referendum.

“The Leave campaign were surprised that they won and now they don’t know what to do. They have no policies as to how we are going to make this particular result work.”

Mr Johnson argued that the UK should not pay to access Europe’s single market for goods and services after Brexit, and he predicted Brexit presented a “glorious” opportunity for the UK.

Mr Hogan countered: "Nobody voted in the UK to leave the Single Market or the Customs Union. They voted yes or no to the European Union and therefore the detail and the final print wasn't explained properly by both sides to the extent that it should be."

Mr Hogan warned that there will be no soft exit if Britain exits the Single Market and Customs Union.

However, he stated there was now a greater realism within the British Government towards Brexit.

“I have to say and acknowledge that since Parliament went into recess, there has been an effort by the Government, albeit in a difficult situation for a divided Government, to try and bring forward new proposals and position papers,” he said.

“We on the European Union do not believe it is enough, but we have to acknowledge that some movement was made.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times