Boris Johnson told Poles their rights would be protected ‘whatever happens’ with Brexit in a promise significantly stronger than that offered by Theresa May.
The Foreign Secretary made the startling intervention at a little noticed reception celebrating UK-Poland links – and even told people to record it.
Mrs May has said she wants to protect the all the current of EU citizens living in Britain but wants matching guarantees for Britons in Europe first.
Mr Johnson will be back on the Brexit front lines today with flying visits to Lisbon and Paris as the Government steps up efforts to secure the start of trade talks.
Boris Johnson (pictured in Lisbon today) told Poles their rights would be protected ‘whatever happens’ with Brexit in a promise significantly stronger than that offered by Theresa May
Mr Johnson is back on the Brexit front lines today with flying visits to Lisbon (pictured) and Paris as the Government steps up efforts to secure the start of trade talks.
The Foreign Secretary made the startling intervention at a little noticed reception (pictured on October 17) celebrating UK-Poland links – and even told people to record it
The Prime Minister wrote to EU nationals last week to promise nobody would be asked to leave Britain after Brexit and that a deal was close on rights about access to services and the courts.
Downing Street has played down the apparent split as merely Mr Johnson expressing himself in his own ‘inimitable way’.
The Foreign Secretary’s talks with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian are the second high-profile UK-France engagement of the week as Britain steps up pressure on President Emmanuel Macron to unlock the talks.
Mr Johnson made his intervention on citizens’ rights came at an event at the Foreign Office on October 17. It was posted on the UK Embassy in Warsaw’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.
Mr Johnson even checked that his comments were being recorded as he delivered his message of reassurance at the Belvedere Forum event.
‘We have 30,000 businesses in this country that are Polish,’ he said.
‘We have one million Poles in Britain and we are thoroughly blessed, we are lucky.
‘And I have only one message for you all tonight, you know exactly what it is: you are loved, you are welcome, your rights will be protected whatever happens.’
Theresa May (pictured yesterday on a visit in Norfolk) has said she wants to protect the all the current of EU citizens living in Britain but wants matching guarantees for Britons in Europe first
He added: ‘We will make sure that we continue to be open and welcoming to those from Poland who want to come and make their lives here in this country.’
Mr Johnson also showed off his linguistic abilities, saying ‘I love you Poland’ and ‘thank you’ in Polish.
A Number 10 spokeswoman said: ‘I think in his inimitable way Boris Johnson was simply reiterating the Prime Minister’s personal commitment to put citizens’ rights first, to make that her immediate priority.
‘As you saw last week, she said we are within touching distance of a deal on that. We want to safeguard the rights of EU nationals here and of British citizens in the EU. I think he was reiterating that.
‘I think in his inimitable way he was saying exactly what the PM has been saying.’
Mr Johnson was meeting counterparts Santos Silva in Portugal and Jean-Yves Le Drian in France to discuss issues including Brexit.
‘In Lisbon, I will discuss how to strengthen our friendship and ensure that after the UK leaves the EU we continue to have a strong, special and modern alliance,’ he said.
In Paris, Mr Johnson will also discuss global security issues including Syria, Iran, Ukraine and North Korea.
He said: ‘The UK and France are not only allies, we are the closest of neighbours and friends. Hundreds of thousands of our citizens live in each other’s countries, millions of us cross the Channel every year on visits, and our languages are the most commonly taught in each others’ schools.
‘So, as the UK leaves the European Union, we are not only preserving a crucial alliance, but writing a new chapter in that story.’