Hundreds of supporters turned out in Leeds yesterday for a keynote speech by Boris Johnson, where the London Mayor promised Yorkshire would enjoy a prosperous future outside of the EU.
The Conservative politician was greeted by thunderous applause by ‘Vote Leave’ Brexit campaigners as he strode onto the stage at Leeds’ New Dock Hall on Saturday, where he addressed his audience while flanked by young people holding pro-exit placards.
Immigration was a central theme of his speech in which he highlighted democracy and freedom as the greatest reasons for Britain voting to leave EU membership in the June 23 referendum.
Mr Johnson said Britain had lost control of its borders and its immigration policy had been handed over to someone else. He said this was impacting on the NHS, placing huge pressure on GP surgeries.
“If we take back control, we can solve that problem with immigration but we also get £10bn a year extra to spend on priorities such as the NHS, such as the poorest and the neediest in this country,” he said.
The EU is evolving more and more towards a “federal superstate” that Britain cannot help but be sucked into it, he said, as he labelled EU bureaucrats as unelected remote officials with too much power.
I’m a believer in devolution. It has done well for London.Boris Johnson
West Yorkshire councils are pushing for a Leeds City Region devolution deal. A new regional elected mayor and an assembly to hold them to account has been mooted as part of any deal.
Asked how Brexit could impact on any devolution deal for Yorkshire, Mr Johnson told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I’m a believer in devolution. It has done well for London. I think it’s the future, but what we need is devolution for Europe, devolution for Britain and we need to take back powers and take back control in this country as a whole.”
Mr Johnson used his speech to rubbish talk of trade tariffs being added to British exports, saying member states needed British produce as much as Britain needed imports from other European countries.
And he signed off by saying that he wanted June 24, the day after the EU referendum, to be “independence day for our country”.