British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson came to the United Nations to deliver the message that the United Kingdom wants to play a greater role on the world stage, not withdraw into isolationism.
Johnson, who led the British campaign to exit the European Union, or Brexit, dismissed comparisons Friday between his political views and those of US presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has proposed an isolationist foreign policy.
“I would draw a very, very strong contrast between Brexit and any kind of isolationism,” said the former London mayor who was appointed last week.
“Brexit means us being more outward-looking, more engaged, more enthusiastic and committed on the world stage than ever before,” he said.
The UK voted last month to leave the EU after 43 years of membership in a referendum but it has not yet given formal notice to leave. After formally beginning the exit process, it will have two years to negotiate the terms of its exit.
During his trip to New York, Johnson met with corporate executives and business journalists and had meetings to discuss a UK initiative to counter the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group. He also met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and spoke briefly to UN media.
Johnson said he and Ban talked about Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia – “all countries in which the United Kingdom is playing a leading role in trying to bring solutions whether through diplomacy or politically or peacekeeping.”
“It was very much Ban Ki-moon’s wish that the United Kingdom should play an ever greater role through the UN and be at the forefront of world affairs and showing leadership,” Johnson said. “I was very glad to reaffirm our determination to work with the UN to deliver that.”
“We are going to be more committed than ever before to cooperation and participation and support for other European countries whether through defense policy coordination or foreign policy or counter-terrorism … or intelligence sharing in which the UK is a superpower,” he said.
EU leaders have been urging the UK to start the exit process without delay, arguing that postponing the decision to hand in formal notice was creating uncertainty and slowing economic growth.