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Donald Trump's election a moment of opportunity for Britain, says Johnson

Published 14/11/2016

Boris Johnson said Donald Trump's election reflected wider changes in public opinion to which politicians must respond
Boris Johnson said Donald Trump's election reflected wider changes in public opinion to which politicians must respond

The election of Donald Trump as US president should be seen as a "moment of opportunity" for Britain, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said.

Mr Johnson refused to attend an emergency meeting on Sunday of EU foreign ministers to discuss the implications of Mr Trump's victory, branding vocal European concerns about his election as a "whinge-o-rama".

Arriving for a regular meeting with his EU counterparts in Brussels, he insisted that the election of the property tycoon and reality TV star could be "a good thing" for both Europe and Britain.

"I think there is a lot to be positive about and it is very important not to pre-judge the president-elect or his administration," said Mr Johnson.

"It's only a few days since the election has taken place. I think we all need to wait and see what they come up with. But I think we should regard it as a moment for opportunity."

Prior to Mr Trump's shock victory in last week's election, Mr Johnson had described him as "ill-informed" and said his comments on Islam showed "a quite stupefying ignorance that makes him frankly unfit to hold the office of President of the United States".

But arriving in Brussels on Monday morning, Mr Johnson said the Republican's election reflected wider changes in public opinion to which politicians must respond.

"This is a time, I think - as the Prime Minister is saying today - when there's a big change going on in the world," said Mr Johnson.

"People who feel they haven't been properly listened to and properly represented are starting to make their voices heard.

"It's up to us, it's up to everybody, to listen to them and to take things forward in a positive way.

"Donald Trump - as I've said before - is a deal-maker and I think that could be a good thing for Britain, but it could also be a good thing for Europe and that I think is what we need to focus on today."

Brussels foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini dismissed Mr Johnson's absence from Sunday's meeting by saying it was "normal" for a country leaving the bloc "not to be so interested" in the future of EU-US relations.

Ms Mogherini, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, barely concealed her frustration at the situation, telling reporters: "Some in Europe are surprised not when that country is absent, but nowadays that it is still present around the table of the 28.

"So, I guess it is only normal for a country that has decided to leave the European Union not to be so interested in our discussions on the future of our relations with the United States."

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