Leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson, currently in Interlaken, Switzerland, said “of course” he would stand to be the next prime minister after Theresa May announced her resignation.
He made the comment during a speech at the Swiss Economic Forumexternal link (SEF) in the mountain resort of Interlaken on Friday afternoonexternal link, hours after May said she would leave her post on June 7. The former British foreign minister paid tribute to May, saying she was “patient and stoical” facing all the difficulties around the country's departure from the European Union.
The next British prime minister can also revive stalled talks with the EU over an exit deal, Johnson said. “A new leader will have the opportunity to do things differently and have the momentum of a new administration,” he said.
Johnson also noted the hard EU stance towards Switzerland – which is not a member of the EU but is negotiating a framework agreement with Brussels, as it has bilateral agreements with the EU – and said Switzerland “should not give in”.
The EU wants the umbrella agreement with Switzerland to replace over 20 large sectoral agreements and more than 100 smaller deals in place at the bilateral level. The negotiations began in 2014 and a proposed accord was unveiled in December 2018.
The Swiss government has submitted it to a public consultation due to divergent domestic viewpoints. Brussels has given Switzerland until July 2019 to decide whether it wants to accept the deal.
On Thursday the EU’s top civil servant, speaking to Swiss public television, warned that a colder wind would soon blow from Brussels towards Switzerland.
The annual two-day SEF conference attracts around 1,350 people from the business world, academia, politics and the media, for “an active exchange of ideas and cross-industry networking”.