Boris Johnson: It is 'bollocks' to say freedom of movement is a fundamental right

Posted On: 
15th November 2016

Boris Johnson has said it is "bollocks" to say freedom of movement is a fundamental right for EU citizens as he insisted Brexit will allow the UK to regain control of its borders.

Boris Johnson was speaking during a visit to the Czech Republic last week
Credit: 
PA Images

In a colourful interview with a Czech newspaper, the Foreign Secretary also became the first minister to publicly say quitting the EU will probably see Britain leaving the European customs union.

He also said he was "surprised" that relations between the UK and the Czech Republic were so good given the amount of "hen parties [and] British drink driving in Prague".

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Speaking to Hospodářské noviny​, Mr Johnson insisted the freedom to move between EU member states was not part of the Treaty of Rome, which set up the then European Economic Community.

He said: "It's a total myth - nonsense. It is stupid to say that freedom of movement is a fundamental right. It's something that has been acquired by a series of decisions by the courts.

"And everyone now has in his head that every human being has a fundamental, God-given right to go and move wherever he wants. But it is not. 

"It was never a founding principle of the European Union. It's a complete myth.Total myth."

The leading Brexiteer added: "The idea that freedom of movement is a fundamental right of the EU is just bollocks."

CUSTOMS UNION

Mr Johnson said Britain wanted to maintain access to the European single market, but added: "We'll probably have to leave the customs union, but it is a question that will be discussed.

"I believe it can be done while maintaining free trade and growing [the] European economy. What do our citizens want? They want growth, they want jobs, they want the opportunity to travel."

Setting out the type of relationship he believes Britain will have with the EU after it leaves, he said: "The UK will continue to support the European Union. 

"The UK will be the EU's new, dynamic trading relationship. Take back control of the borders, but we are an open society that will welcome foreigners."

Insisting that Britain will still import popular goods from EU countries, he said: "This tie that I'm wearing now was bought in the Czech Republic. The toy store Hamleys is now the largest in Prague, Magic Putty - I've never seen [it] before - is said to have sold very well.

"How crazy and nonsensical to come up in the negotiations with something that would halt exports to Britain [of] Skoda cars or halt exports of British financial services or anything further to the European Union. Why?"