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Boris Johnson: Public wants end to ‘political kerfuffle’

The Foreign Secretary is on a two-day trip to New Zealand designed to strengthen ties ahead of Brexit.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said the general election “did not evolve entirely in the way the Government had hoped”, as he dismissed speculation about a leadership bid.

Mr Johnson said the British public did not have an appetite for “any more political kerfuffle”, adding people wanted to see the Government get on with the job of Brexit.

He was speaking during a press conference at New Zealand’s parliament buildings in Wellington, during a two-day trip designed to strengthen ties with the Commonwealth state as the UK seeks new trading links after leaving the European Union.

The Foreign Secretary is on the latest leg of a nine-day international tour that will see him head to Australia next.

After delivering a statement in which he said New Zealand would be “at or near the front of the queue” for a free trade deal after the UK leaves the 27-member bloc, the Uxbridge MP was quizzed about his political ambitions.

Mr Johnson was greeted by a shout of “Boris for PM” at a ceremony in Wellington – but the Foreign Secretary played down the idea of him replacing PM Theresa May.

He said: “I also spotted a protester who took a diametrically opposed view.

“What the British people want to see is a government that gets on with the job and they’ve got that with Theresa and we are going to deliver a great Brexit deal.

“A deal that works for our European friends, for the UK, but also works for New Zealand.

“What the British people want to see is us getting on with the job. They see no need for any more political kerfuffle.”

Boris Johnson brushed aside questions about him making a leadership bid (Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald via AP)

When asked if “infighting” could compromise progress in trade discussions, Mr Johnson said any suggestion of discord in the Conservative Party had “completely passed me by”.

“Let’s be clear, the election did not evolve entirely in the way the Government had hoped or would have wanted … I’m going to put that out,” he said.

“But the Labour Party did not win, they were 50 seats behind. We have a workable system of getting stuff through the House of Commons … we have workable majority with our friends from Northern Ireland. We are getting on with the business of governing, which is overwhelmingly what the British people want to see.”

Mr Johnson also reiterated his view that Brexit was not about Britain becoming more isolationist.

The Foreign Secretary was introduced to the tuatara by conservation minister Maggie Barry (Marty Melville/AP)

He said: “People have got a democratic right to feel that their government is in charge of the situation and that was a bit what the whole Brexit thing was about.

“It wasn’t that people were hostile to immigrants, they weren’t hostile to people with talents and energy coming to the UK, they just wanted to feel that the British government had a handle on it.

“I will say this until I’m blue in the face: Brexit is not, was not, will not be about Britain turning away from the world.

“On the contrary, it is about us wanting to keep great relations with European friends and partners and do a great free trade deal with them, but it is also about rediscovering and intensifying friendships and partnerships around the world.”

During the press conference, New Zealand’s foreign minister Gerry Brownlee said there was a “strong interest” in swiftly concluding a free trade agreement with the UK after Brexit – adding it will “bring our two countries closer together”.

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