Boris to defy Cameron and urge Britain to quit the EU
BORIS Johnson is preparing to urge voters to back a British exit in the EU referendum, it emerged yesterday.
The Tory London mayor and MP has told friends he hoped supporting the “No” campaign to EU membership would force Brussels to make major treaty concessions to the UK.
But his stance threatens to put him at loggerheads with David Cameron and trigger a rift in the Conservative Party.
Mr Johnson is counting on Britain having a second EU referendum. He feels a victory for the “No” campaign in 2017 would then force Brussels to make serious reforms to lure the UK back.
A better deal could then be put to the British people in a second vote.
Mr Johnson, who was elected Tory MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip last month, believes Britain should reject any deal offered by the EU.
He is reported to have told friends: “We need to be bold. You have to show them that you are serious.”
A friend said: “I don’t think, in his heart, Boris wants us to walk away. But he’s interested in us saying No because it won’t be what we want. That would mean a second vote.
“He thinks the only way to deal with these people is to play hardball.” Mr Johnson’s remarks will alarm Downing Street as the mayor was widely expected to line up with Mr Cameron to keep Britain in the EU.
The Prime Minister will give a Commons statement today about his EU negotiations. But Eurosceptic Tories fear his demands for reform in Brussels do not go far enough.
At a summit in the Belgian capital last week, Mr Cameron won acceptance from EU leaders for another six months of talks about his plans.
But many of the changes he wants are unlikely to be in force when the referendum takes place. Former Tory cabinet minister Owen Paterson said: “The Prime Minister is asking for very little of substance to change. We’re hearing now that he did not even ask for it.
“He is not trying to regain the power for Britain to make our own trade deals. He is not trying to end the supremacy of EU law. He is asking other European countries what they will give him, which is no way to conduct a negotiation.”
UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said: “Cameron’s dream of treaty change fell at the summit in Brussels last week.”
Boris – vote ‘ No’ tactic