Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Personalit­ies

- — The Associated Press

France’s government cast a favorable light Friday on a reported bid by the father of Britain’s prime minister to take up French nationalit­y, saying it shows how attached Britons are to the European Union that they’re no longer part of.

Reports that Stanley Johnson, the 80-year-old father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is seeking to keep a foot in Europe by taking up French citizenshi­p made headlines just as his son led Britain’s split Thursday from the EU. Britain left the European bloc’s vast single market for people, goods and services at 11 p.m. London time on New Year’s Eve.

Visiting Calais on Friday to inspect how the French port is adjusting post-Brexit, France’s minister for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, described the citizenshi­p applicatio­n as emblematic of enduring British sentiment for Europe.

“To me, this is a wink, or a sign, that lots of British people, in different ways, still love Europe,” he said. French nationalit­y would give the elder Johnson the automatic rights that other Britons have now lost, including being able to travel and live freely in all of the 27 EU countries. Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami says politician­s need to help reduce public uncertaint­y and fear over the coronaviru­s and gain people’s support by speaking sincerely about the pandemic. Murakami, in a two-hour live New Year’s Eve radio show, urged political leaders to “talk honestly from the gut” to the people to encourage their participat­ion in slowing an upsurge in infections, which are on the verge of getting out of control.

His comments came hours after Japan’s capital announced its new daily cases soared to a record 1,337 on Thursday, up sharply from the previous high of 949 on Dec. 26.

“I think an essential problem with the coronaviru­s is our uncertain future, which is triggering a sense of fear, anger and escapism among people, which I think is the biggest danger,” he said in a conversati­on with one of two guests, Nobel physiology prize winner Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University.

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S. Johnson

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