Brexit: Boris Johnson to campaign for Britain to leave EU

Johnson says deal secured by Cameron does not fundamentally reform European Union

 

Boris Johnson has declared that he is to join the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union.

The London mayor put an end to months of speculation, saying that David Cameron’s renegotiation had failed to deliver fundamental change in Britain’s relationship with Brussels.

“I don’t think that anybody can claim that this is fundamental reform of the EU or of Britain’s relationship with the EU,” he said.

His announcement – made outside his London home – is a huge boost for the “out” campaign potentially giving them a popular figurehead able to connect with voters in a way few other Westminster politicians can.

At the same time, it comes as a bitter blow for David Cameron who had long believed that his old rival from their days at Eton and Oxford would ultimately fall in behind his EU renegotiation package.

Amid chaotic scenes, Mr Johnson insisted that he had agonised over the decision before finally declaring his hand.

“The last thing I wanted was to go against David Cameron or the government but after a great deal of heartache I don’t think there is anything else I can do,” he said.

“I will be advocating vote leave . . . because I want a better deal for the people of this country to save them money and to take back control.”

Mr Johnson said he would not be debating against the prime minister or against ministers and would offer his views only when asked.

Earlier, Mr Cameron had issued a last ditch appeal for the London mayor not to align himself with “outers” such as Ukip leader Nigel Farage and Respect’s George Galloway.

“I think the prospect of linking arms with Nigel Farage and George Galloway and taking a leap into the dark is the wrong step for our country,” he said.

“If Boris and if others really care about being able to get things done in our world, then the EU is one of the ways in which we get them done.”

An Ipsos MORI poll showed Mr Johnson (51) is second only to Mr Cameron when it comes to swaying public opinion on Europe.

One in three voters said Mr Johnson would be important in helping them decide which way to vote, the poll showed.

PA