During talks in Prague on Monday, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson assured Czech officials that the rights of Czech citizens living and working in Great Britain would be protected after Brexit and stressed his country’s interest in preserving its close relationship with the Czech Republic.
On the first stop of a tour of European capitals to explain the British position on Brexit outlined by Prime Minister Theresa May in Florence late last week, Mr. Johnson went out of his way to underline the close relationship between the two countries and Britain’s commitment to preserving and further developing ties.
“We hugely value the contribution of the 45,000 Czech citizens living and working in the UK. They make a huge difference to our lives and their rights will be protected and respected for as long as they choose to stay and they will be guaranteed by the UK courts which are very liberal, very progressive courts who will specifically have regard to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice.”
The British foreign secretary reiterated Prime Minister Theresa May’s promise that the UK would continue to honour all existing European Union rules during the two-year transition period needed to conclude the separation talks.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said he was pleased to hear that Britain wanted to forge a close and special partnership with the EU and said Prague was interested in reaching an agreement that would be beneficial for both sides.
“I was particularly pleased to hear that Britain has pledged to respect its financial commitments to the EU and sees the need to continue cooperation in the area of security, defence and development aid. Those are issues of primary importance and I assured Boris of our commitment to work for a mutually advantageous agreement in all areas.“
Mr. Zaorálek welcomed the British foreign secretary’s assurances regarding the rights of Czech citizens in Great Britain and said the Czech Republic was greatly interested in preserving the volume of trade with its fourth biggest trading partner. The Czech foreign minister documented the country’s good trade relations with the UK by giving his guest a British product sold in the Czech Republic – a ping-pong set sold under the name Little Boris. Boris Johnson was clearly amused and had a ready reply.
“I hadn’t seen one before, but I am delighted to find that they are sold here in Prague. If this is ping-pong, what I would respectfully say is that the ball is now in your court –as it were – our friends and partners in the European Union - and we look forward to seeing how we can get it back over the net and continue this conversation. We want to build a deep and special partnership with our friends in the EU, but with nowhere more than the Czech Republic is that partnership important to us. This is a historic friendship, it goes back to the time when Czech pilots flew side by side with the RAF and it is our purpose, our mission to make sure that partnership endures and goes from strength to strength.”