Brexit boss Boris Johnson hails EU in unseen column | News | DW | 16.10.2016
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Brexit boss Boris Johnson hails EU in unseen column

"The Sunday Times" has published a previously unreleased column by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urging Britain to stay in the EU. The article was penned days before he became chief Brexit campaigner.

Boris Johnson's uncertainty about joining the Brexit campaign ahead of June's referendum is not itself news to the British public.

But a previously unpublished column printed in "The Sunday Times" has now shed light on exactly how Johnson would have made the case for staying in the European Union. The original text was revealed in "All Out War," a new book by the newspaper's political editor, Tim Shipman.

Just two days before Johnson broke from Prime Minister David Cameron's "Remain" camp, he wrote that the United Kingdom's remaining in the EU would be "a boon for the world and for Europe."

Johnson, who became foreign minister after the referendum, went on to warn that Brexit could lead to "economic shock" and the breakup of the union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Directly contradicting comments made this week in which he described the European single market as "increasingly useless," Johnson wrote that "this is a market on our doorstep, ready for further exploitation by British firms: The membership fee seems rather small for all that access."

"Why are we so determined to turn our back on it?" Johnson wrote.  

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'Some big questions'

Johnson warned of "the Putin factor": "We don't want to do anything to encourage more shirtless swaggering from the Russian leader, not in the Middle East, not anywhere."

"There are some big questions that the 'out' side need to answer," Johnson wrote.

The former London mayor 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."

In or out?

Responding to the publication, Johnson told journalists outside his London home that he had been "wrestling with the issue" in February and wrote a long article that was "overwhelmingly in favor 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," Johnson said.

"I set them side by side, and it was blindingly obvious what the right thing to do was," Johnson said. "And I think the people made the right decision."

Plummeting pound

Fifty-two percent of voters favored leaving the European Union in June's referendum.

In the aftermath of the vote, the pound has fallen 18 percent against the dollar and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has outlined her plans for a new referendum on Scottish independence.

Cameron also resigned, leaving the door to number 10 Downing Street open for Theresa May. Last month, the UK's new prime minister announced that she would trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by the end of March to begin two years of negotiations on Britain's departure from the European Union.


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