Britain's foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, told a closed-door gathering of conservatives that he had become "increasingly admiring of Donald Trump" and that he had "become more and more convinced that there is a method in his madness," according to a recording of the discussion which lasted over an hour obtained by BuzzFeed.
“Imagine Trump doing Brexit,” Johnson said to the group of 20 Torries. “There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”
Johnson's comments at the Institute of Directors to the right-wing group, Conservative Way Forward, comes as pressure mounts on UK Prime Minister Theresa May from within Parliament over Brexit.
The UK is set to leave the European Union in march, however internal strife within the government has left Britain's post-Brexit relationships with the rest of Europe in limbo.
Johnson remarked that May would soon become "much more combative with Brussels," per BuzzFeed.
Speaking about Brexit, Johnson told the Tory activists the talks are approaching a “moment of truth”.
“I’m not going to hide it from you,” Johnson told the activists. “There is an argument going on.”
Brexit will happen, “and I think it will be irreversible”, Johnson said. But he added: “The risk is that it will not be the one we want.” -BuzzFeed
“You’ve got to face the fact there may now be a meltdown. OK? I don’t want anybody to panic during the meltdown," he said. "It’s going to be all right in the end."
Johnson also told the group that there's a high probability of Britain ending up with an agreement which stands in violation of the Brexiteers' "red lines," which would keep it "locked in orbit around the EU, in the customs union, and to a large extent still in the single market."
"So not really having full freedom on our trade policy, our tariff schedules, and not having freedom with our regulatory framework either."
That outcome was being pushed particularly by the Treasury, which Johnson said was “basically the heart of Remain”. It would mean the UK had left the EU without taking back control over its own affairs.
Clarifying his own red lines, Johnson said he would be willing to accept staying close to the EU beyond March 2019, when the UK formally leaves the EU, but will not budge when it comes to the final terms of the future relationship.
“I will be prepared to compromise over time, but I will not compromise over the destination,” the foreign secretary told the activists.
The Remainers in government are so worried about the potential for short-term disruption after Brexit that they’re blind to the long-term benefits, Johnson said.
More of Johnson's (far less intelligible) comments on Brexit can be heard below: