The Daily Telegraph
Boris: why Britain should say No to EU
‘There is only one way to get the change we need– and that is to vote to go; because all EU history shows that they only really listen to a population when it says No.’
‘This is a once in a lifetime chance to vote for real change in Britain’s relations with Europe. This is the only opportunity we will ever have’
BORIS JOHNSON today says that Britain has a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to vote to leave the European Union as a way of securing an entirely new relationship with Brussels based around the single market.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson calls for Britain to be “brave” and says “there is only one way to get the change we need – and that is to vote to go”. EU history “shows they only really listen to a population when it says No”, he says.
Unlike some of those backing a “Brexit”, Mr Johnson raises the possibility that Britain may not ultimately leave the EU in the event of an Out vote. He calls for Britain to have a deep and cooperative relationship with the EU “on the lines originally proposed by Winston Churchill: interested, associated, but not absorbed; with Europe – but not comprised”.
His decision will electrify the referendum campaign and came as a major blow to David Cameron just one day after calling the June 23 vote.
It also sets the stage for a leadership campaign that looks likely to see Mr Johnson face off against George Osborne, the Chancellor, for the chance to succeed Mr Cameron when he steps down. Mr Johnson only informed the Prime Minister of his final decision by text message nine minutes before making a public address declaring that he would back a “Brexit”.
It is understood that he was swayed during talks last week with Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary, who is also backing the campaign to leave.
Mr Johnson and Mr Gove are already being described by insiders as a new axis of power in the Conservative Party to rival Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne.
Five other Cabinet ministers are already backing the Out campaign. It is now expected that 13 junior ministers will back a “Brexit” alongside around 150 Tory MPs.
“This is a once in a lifetime chance to vote for real change in Britain’s relations with Europe,” Mr Johnson says. “This is the only opportunity we will ever have to show that we care about self-rule. A vote to remain will be taken in Brussels as a green light for more federalism, and for the erosion of democracy.”
He rejects claims made by Mr Cameron and his Cabinet allies about the “risks” of a Brexit.
Mr Johnson writes: “We will hear a lot in the coming weeks about the risks of this option; the risk to the economy, the risk to the City of London and so on; and though those risks cannot be entirely dismissed I think they are likely to be exaggerated. We have heard this kind of thing before, about the decision to opt out of the euro, and the very op- posite turned out to be the case.”
Mr Johnson also rubbished the Prime Minister’s claims that his renegotiated settlement with Brussels had achieved “fundamental reform” of the EU.
In his Telegraph article, Mr Johnson suggests that because of the EU’s influence, Mr Cameron and other politicians are “impotent” on key issues such as immigration.
“Sometimes the public can see all too plainly the impotence of their own elected politicians – as with immigration,” Mr Johnson writes. “That enrages them; not so much the numbers as the lack of control.
“That is what we mean by loss of sovereignty – the inability of people to kick out, at elections, the men and women who control their lives.
“We are seeing an alienation of the people from the power they should hold, and I am sure this is contributing to the sense of disengagement, the apathy, the view that politicians are ‘all the same’ and can change nothing, and to the rise of extremist parties.”
Mr Johnson says that the influence of European courts on British life is “unstoppable and it is irreversible”.
He writes: “That is why EU law is likened to a ratchet, clicking only forwards. We are seeing a slow and invisible process of legal colonisation, as the EU infiltrates just about every area of public policy.”
Mr Johnson writes that the Prime Minister “has done his very best” over the course of his renegotiation and praises his bid to reassert the sover- eignty of the British Parliament with a new Bill to be brought forward in the coming days. However, he says Mr Cameron’s reforms “cannot stop the machine; at best it can put a temporary and occasional spoke in the ratchet”.
Calling for voters to be unafraid of voting to leave the EU, Mr Johnson writes: “If the ‘Leave’ side wins, it will indeed be necessary to negotiate a large number of trade deals at great speed. But why should that be impossible?
“We have become so used to nanny in Brussels that we have become infantilised, incapable of imagining an independent future.”
Allies of the Prime Minister were last night furious at Mr Johnson’s decision. They accused him of making the announcement as part of a “calculated leadership bid” – an accusation that Mr Johnson yesterday rejected.
According to sources, Mr Johnson had given the Prime Minister his personal assurance just weeks ago that he intended to back the In campaign.
It is now expected that following Mr Johnson’s declaration, wealthy donors will swing behind the Out campaign.
Mr Johnson yesterday said he would not play a prominent role in the campaign and would not debate against Conservatives backing the In campaign.
Lord Heseltine, the former deputy prime minister, last night released a statement attacking Mr Johnson.
He said: “If he were to be successful in his ambition to cut us off from Europe, the flags would fly in Frankfurt and Paris in his honour.”