Boris praised EU, then led ‘out’ campaign

Boris Johnson. Picture: HANNAH MCKAY / REUTERS
Boris Johnson. Picture: HANNAH MCKAY / REUTERS

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote an article urging that Britain stay in the EU just days before becoming the chief campaigner for Brexit, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

In the previously unseen column, Johnson asserted that remaining in the European Union would be a boon for the world and for Europe.

He warned that Brexit could lead to economic shock and the breakup of the union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, in the text revealed in a new book by the newspaper’s political editor, Tim Shipman, titled All Out War.

Then there was “the Putin factor”, Johnson wrote. “We don’t want to do anything to encourage more shirtless swaggering from the Russian leader, not in the Middle East, not anywhere.”

The column was penned just two days before the shock announcement in February that Johnson would head the “Leave” campaign, according to the Sunday Times.

It said he wrote the piece as a way of clarifying his thoughts, before composing a final article arguing the case for Brexit, published in the Daily Telegraph newspaper in March.

The politician also made an emotional plea to voters to consider the impact of Brexit on future generations, writing: “Shut your eyes. Hold your breath. Think of Britain. Think of the rest of the EU. Think of the future.”

Responding to the publication, Johnson told journalists he had been wrestling with the issue in February and wrote a long article that was overwhelmingly in favour of leaving the EU.

“I then thought I had better see if I could try and make an alternative case to myself so I wrote a kind of semi-parodic article in the opposite sense,” he said.

“I set them side by side and it was blindingly obvious what the right thing to do was. And I think the people made the right decision.”

Since then, the pound has fallen 18% against the dollar and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has outlined her plans for a new referendum on Scottish independence.

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