Boris Johnson: What He Said and What He Meant

Boris Johnson David Cameron
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson in Harrow, London May 12, 2014. Johnson has laid out what he thinks Britain should achieve as a deal with the EU. Stefan Rousseau/Reuters

Good news everyone! Boris Johnson broke his near-silence on Sunday night with his Daily Telegraph column, and it turns out that everything is going to be OK after Brexit. Better than OK in fact; Britain is going to get a deal with the EU that includes absolutely everything it could possibly want and nothing it doesn't. Panic over.

To take you through Johnson's plans, we've picked through his flowery prose (the legendary former Brussels correspondent and Spectator editor is a great stylist) and explained what he actually means.

You can read the full column here.

What Boris says: "It has been a gruelling campaign in which we have seen divisions between family and friends and colleagues—sometimes entirely amicable, sometimes, alas, less so."
What it means: His sister Rachel's Mail On Sunday column was a little on the nose, especially the bit where she called his colleagues in the Leave campaign " take-control freaks" and where his 19-year-old nephew says: "They're all saying Boris has stolen our futures."

What Boris says: "It is said that those who voted Leave were mainly driven by anxieties about immigration. I do not believe that is so. After meeting thousands of people in the course of the campaign, I can tell you that the number one issue was control."
What it means: It's quite hard to cut immigration, just ask David Cameron. Maybe everyone will just forget about the issue?

What Boris says: "We who agreed with this majority verdict must accept that it was not entirely overwhelming. There were more than 16 million who wanted to remain. They are our neighbours, brothers and sisters who did what they passionately believe was right."
What it means: The Conservative leadership contest will be a lot easier if he has support from some pro-EU MPs.

What Boris says: " We had one Scotland referendum in 2014, and I do not detect any real appetite to have another one soon."
What it means: May as well give this tactic a try?

What Boris says: " British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down…Yes, the Government will be able to take back democratic control of immigration policy, with a balanced and humane points-based system to suit the needs of business and industry."
What it means: I'm going to ask the EU to accept untrammeled immigration from Britain while removing the automatic right of their citizens to come here, and they're going to accept it because I am Boris Johnson.

What Boris Says: "British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes and to settle down...there will continue to be free trade, and access to the single market."
What it means: Johnson seems to be advocating a Norway-style model, where Britain keeps many of the same conditions of its relationship with the EU without being a member. The difference, of course, is that he claims we'll have controls on EU immigration, which Norway does not have. In other words he is proposing Britain should be astonishingly bold and ask for all the benefits of EU membership with none of the costs. Then again, if you wanted two words to describe Johnson, you could do worse than "astonishingly bold."