Daily Express


Johnson blasts claim that Brexit will spark conflict

- By David Maddox Political Reporter

BORIS Johnson warned yesterday that Britain “would be mad” not to seize the chance to quit the EU. The former London mayor told voters they had a once-ina-lifetime chance to choose freedom from the “outdated ideology” of Brussels.

In a passionate speech, he accused David Cameron of scaremonge­ring by claiming a Brexit could lead to war in Europe.

Critics say the Remain campaign’s latest bid to win votes in next month’s EU referendum has turned Project Fear into Project Armageddon.

Mr Johnson’s dramatic interventi­on came as

senior Brexit figures prepare for a nationwide tour to persuade Britons to vote Leave and free the UK from unelected officials in Brussels.

He ruthlessly dismantled the “mad” claims of the Remain campaign and pleaded with voters to back the “hope” offered by Brexit.

In his keynote speech in central London, Mr Johnson presented Britain as a country on the brink of a great escape.

He said: “We can see the sunlit meadows beyond. We would be mad not to take this once-in-a-lifetime chance to walk through that door.”

But Brexit campaigner­s were having to stand up to a £9billion Government machine on the side of the Remain supporters, he said.


Boris also destroyed the claim that the European Union helped maintain peace, blaming it for the bloodshed in the Balkans civil wars.

He argued that Nato, backed by American firepower, had “cleared up the mess in the former Yugoslavia” and had been the guarantor of peace in Europe since 1945.

“I saw the disaster when the EU was charged with sorting out former Yugoslavia,” he said. “And I saw how Nato sorted it out.

“The so-called Peace in Europe argument, that if Britain leaves the EU there will be a return to slaughter on Flanders Fields, grossly underestim­ates the way Europe has changed. The Nato guarantee has underpinne­d peace in Europe.”

Mr Johnson said he was confident that voters will “make the right choice” on June 23 by backing Brexit. He mocked Downing Street claims that there are strong economic arguments for staying in.

Boris declared: “To keep insisting that the EU is about economics is like saying the Italian Mafia is interested in olive oil and real estate.

“It is true – but profoundly uninformat­ive about the real aims of that organisati­on.”

He said that Mr Cameron’s renegotiat­ion had “made no difference” to Britain’s place in the EU and would lead to it being “dragged into a European superstate”.

He also said that the much-hyped single market had in fact been bad for trade in the UK and Europe.

Mr Johnson added that the loss of democratic control so we could be part of the single market was “spirituall­y damaging and socially risky” and warned that the economic benefits of remaining subject to EU law-making machine were “very hard to detect”.

He pointed out that British exports of goods were 22 per cent lower over a 20-year period than if they had they had continued to grow at the rate of the 20 years before the single market began in1992.

“We were told goods would start pinging around the EEC as if in some supercharg­ed cyclotron,” Boris said. “On the contrary, the rate of growth flattened, lower than when there was no single market.”

Mr Johnson also attacked claims that supporters of Brexit are “little Englanders”.

At one point the Tory MP sang the German language version of the European anthem, Ode To Joy, and

boasted that he reads novels in French and Spanish. He added: “I am a child of Europe. I am a liberal cosmopolit­an.

“I find it offensive, insulting, irrelevant and positively cretinous to be told – sometimes by people who can barely speak a foreign language – that I belong to a group of small-minded xenophobes.

“Because the truth is it is Brexit that is now the great project of European liberalism.

“And I am afraid that it is the European Union, for all the high ideals with which it began, that now represents the ancien regime.”

Boris warned that EU centralisa­tion was “destabilis­ing Europe and alienating people”, leading to the rise of the Far Right in places like Austria and France.

In a Brexit battle cry, he said the Remain campaign was “fighting for an outdated absolutist ideology and we are fighting for freedom”.

Mr Cameron’s warning of war if Britain left the EU was also roundly mocked by Tory former Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

It came during a debate triggered by an e-petition against the £9.3million spent on sending a pro-EU leaflet to every British household.

Dr Fox said there was “no mention in the leaflet of the risk of war and genocide”. To laughter, he suggested this might be because “it is a complete fabricatio­n”.

Leave.EU co-founder Arron Banks said Mr Cameron’s comments were “insulting”. He said: “Cameron is really threatenin­g war? This is desperate stuff from Desperate Dave.”

But Mr Cameron rejected claims he was “crying wolf” over the risk of war. The Prime Minister claimed that quitting the European Union would put peace and stability at risk and hamper the fight against terror.

He said the EU had reconciled warring nations and insisted there was “strength in numbers”.

He argued that staying in the 28-member bloc was crucial in fighting Islamic State and dealing with a “newly belligeren­t” Russia.

Mr Cameron said: “No one can doubt that Europe has had a violent and turbulent history. These are facts. I am not arguing that the EU alone has kept the peace in Europe. Of course Nato played a key role.”

He also insisted that quitting the EU could lead to the disintegra­tion of the United Kingdom, with Scotland choosing independen­ce.

IN A barnstormi­ng speech yesterday morning Boris Johnson tore apart a number of pro-EU arguments. This newspaper wholeheart­edly agrees with his assessment of David Cameron’s scare tactics, the EU’s anti-democratic meddling and the absurd claim that euroscepti­cs are “Little Englanders”.

The former Mayor of London remains one of this country’s most popular and respected politician­s. From the evidence of yesterday’s speech it is easy to see why: he made the case for Brexit with intelligen­ce, honesty and charisma.

With last week’s elections over, the run-up to the referendum has begun in earnest. We can expect the political establishm­ent to step up the fear campaign it has been waging in a bid to terrify wavering voters into backing the status quo.

The Leave campaign needs its most prominent supporters to deliver. With Mr Johnson now free of his obligation­s as mayor he has the opportunit­y to play a defining role in the referendum.

But, popular though he is, he cannot do it alone. Figures across the political spectrum ranging from Ukip leader Nigel Farage to the prominent Labour euroscepti­c Kate Hoey all have an important role to play in persuading as many voters as possible to back the cause.

The Leave campaigner­s face the fight of their political lives. But with every indication that a large number of voters are yet to make up their minds the referendum is there to be won.

 ??  ?? Boris Johnson yesterday insisted Britain is on the brink of a “great escape” and must vote to Leave next month
Boris Johnson yesterday insisted Britain is on the brink of a “great escape” and must vote to Leave next month
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