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LONDON (Reuters) – Foreign secretary Boris Johnson warned that there could be a Brexit meltdown but it will be “all right in the end” and that U.S. President Trump would take a tougher stance were he leading the talks, according to BuzzFeed.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street in London, June 7, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Johnson’s comments were secretly recorded at a dinner on Wednesday evening and released on Thursday by the news website hours after ministers found a compromise on a backstop Brexit plan for the Irish border.

Johnson said that Prime Minister Theresa May was beginning to take a harder line but that there would be a need for level-headedness as talks became more difficult in the months ahead.

“I think Theresa is going to go into a phase where we are much more combative with Brussels,” Johnson was recorded saying.

“You’ve got to face the fact there may now be a meltdown. OK? I don’t want anybody to panic during the meltdown. No panic. Pro bono publico, no bloody panic. It’s going to be all right in the end.”

Johnson said U.S. President Trump, who is locked in a battle over steel tariffs with European allies including Britain, would take a stronger approach if he were in charge of the negotiations.

“Imagine Trump doing Brexit,” said Johnson.

“He’d go in bloody hard… 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 also appeared to criticise Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, who is regarded as one of the most pro-European members of May’s cabinet and has drawn criticism from eurosceptics.

The Treasury is “basically the heart of Remain” and is trying to stop Britain from having full freedom on trade policy after Brexit by keeping it tied to the EU’s customs union and to a large extent the single market, Johnson said according to BuzzFeed.

A spokeswoman at May’s Downing Street office did not offer an immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Guy Faulconbridge



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