UK foreign minister Johnson warns against Brexit 'punishment beatings'

London, United KingdomUpdated: Jan 19, 2017, 12:28 AM IST

File photo of Boris Johnson. Photograph:(Getty)

Britain's foreign minister Boris Johnson warned French President Francois Hollande against World War II-style "punishment beatings" for Brexit.

Hollande has said it would not accept improved conditions for the UK when it leaves the single market.

Johnson said that penalising Britain for leaving the EU would benefit no one and compared the approach to punishment given to escaped prisoners in war movies.

"I think that if Monsieur Hollande wants to administer punishment beatings to anybody who chooses to escape, rather in manner of some sort of World War II movie, than I don’t think that is the way forward," the former journalist told delegates at a political conference in New Delhi, reported AFP.

"I think it's actually not in the interest of our friends and our partners."

Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday said Britain will leave the EU's single market after leaving the European Union in order to restrict immigration in a clean break from the politico-economic union.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the minister's comments "wild and inappropriate".

May's spokeswoman defended Johnson's statement saying it was a "theatrical comparison".

"He was making a point. He was in no way suggesting that anyone was a Nazi," she said.

Johnson's brother told BBC radio that Boris used "colourful language" to make a powerful point.

"He was making a powerful point that we want a rational deal. He was using colourful language to get across an important point," Jo Johnson said.

May said Britain wanted a news customs deal with the EU that would focus on giving Britain "the greatest possible access" to the market on its departure.

On Wednesday, Johnson said Britain's decision to exit the single market did not mean it wanted to stop having access to EU countries, reported AFP.

"We should be working together. It seems absolutely incredible to me that in the 21st century, the European Union... should be seriously contemplating the introduction of tariffs or whatever to administer punishment to (the) UK," he said.

"And don’t forget, these things cut both ways. After all, the Germans, as is well known, export one-fifth of their motor manufacturing output."

(With inputs from AFP)