🔥🇷🇺 As a former Mayor of London, prolific journalist and now Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson is one of the highest-profile Brexit cheerleaders.
Yet just a few weeks before coming out as a Brexiter in 2016, Johnson wrote in his Telegraph column that “leaving would cause at least some business uncertainty, while embroiling the Government for several years in a fiddly process of negotiating new arrangements, so diverting energy from the real problems of this country—low skills, low social mobility, low investment, etc—that have nothing to do with Europe”.
Many view Johnson’s jumping aboard the Brexit bandwagon as an act not of principle but of naked political opportunism. Johnson’s path to becoming the Vote Leave poster boy was far from straightforward. Johnson, the son of an MEP himself, went to school in Brussels and was based there for years as the Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent. Many see Johnson as having a certain affinity with the EU and, according to The Guardian, Johnson himself once declared that:
“I’m rather pro-European, actually. I certainly want a European community where one can go and scoff croissants, drink delicious coffee, learn foreign languages and generally make love to foreign women.”
This didn’t stop him, however, building up a significant record of spreading EU myths (including the infamous myth that the EU wanted to ban prawn cocktail crisps).
As a determined regulation burner, Johnson has frequently made lurid claims about how “EU bureaucracy has gone mad”. In 2016, he trotted out some of these well-worn myths to a Treasury Select Committee looking into the costs and benefits of Britain’s membership of the EU, prompting its chair to interrupt him with the words: “This is all very interesting, Boris. Except none of it is really true, is it?”
He is one of few politicians who still stands by the infamous Brexit bus slogan, insisting that “Britain will still claw back £350m a week after leaving the EU, with much of that money preferably being spent on the NHS.” The absurdity of this figure has been pointed out by the UK Statistics Authority and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, and even Brexit Secretary David Davis and former Ukip leader Nigel Farage have now distanced themselves from it.
On Russian involvement in Brexit, Johnson claimed that he hadn’t “seen a sausage” of evidence to suggest that this occured. As journalist Carole Cadwalladr put it, he “cannot have been looking very hard“.
We know that in November 2017 Johnson was one of three ministers targeted by people linked to the FBI investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Moscow. An email from the “London professor” (subsequently identified as Maltese academic, Joseph Mifsud) who was named in FBI indictments and who has high-level connections to the Russian state, said he would be “meeting Boris Johnson for dinner re Brexit”. Later, photos emerged of Johnson and Mifsud at dinner. As former Labour Cabinet Minister Ben Bradshaw said: “It’s inconceivable that the FBI didn’t tell their UK counterparts about Mifsud … so how was this allowed to happen?”
Less than a month after saying he had seen no sign of Russian meddling in British politics, in December 2017 Johnson told a Moscow press conference that there was in fact “abundant evidence” and that he would “not stand for it” – though he also asserted that attempts to influence the referendum result “had fallen flat”. To have admitted otherwise would have been somewhat embarrassing for a man who had thrown in his lot with the Bad Boys of Brexit.
Is it possible this Minister doth protest too much?
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