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Brexit advocate Boris Johnson hails EU in unseen column

The pro-EU column was penned just two days before the shock announcement that Johnson would head the ‘Leave’ campaign

Image Credit: Reuters
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson takes his seat on the final day of the annual Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Britain, on October 5.
Gulf News

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

In the previously unseen column, published for the first time on Sunday, Johnson asserted that remaining in the EU would be “a boon for the world and for Europe”.

He warned that Brexit could lead to “economic shock” and the break-up 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, entitled All Out War.

Then there is “the Putin factor”, Johnson wrote, adding: “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,” he wrote.

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

In it, Johnson supports membership of the European single market, which this week he described as “increasingly useless”.

“This is a market on our doorstep, ready for further exploitation by British firms: the membership fee seems rather small for all that access,” he wrote, adding: “Why are we so determined to turn our back on it?”

The politician also makes 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.”

Johnson’s campaign to leave the EU ultimately ended in Britain voting in favour of Brexit by 52 to 48 per cent on June 23.

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

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced earlier this month her government will trigger Article 50, to start negotiations to leave the EU, by the end of March 2017.