Boris Johnson, previous mayor of London, and the de-facto leader of the Brexit campaign created a political storm by comparing the European Union’s efforts to build a superstate to Hitler’s attempt to dominate the continent. His controversial comments come six weeks ahead of the vote, set for the Thursday 23rd June when the UK will decide whether Great Britain will stay within, or exit, the EU.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Boris Johnson, said the past 2,000 years of European history had been dominated by doomed attempts to unify the continent under a single government to recreate the ‘golden age’ of the Romans. “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods,” he said.
“But fundamentally, what is lacking is the eternal problem, which is that there is no underlying loyalty to the idea of Europe. There is no single authority that anybody respects or understands. That is causing this massive democratic void,” he added.
Opposition were quick to condemn Johnson’s remarks. Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn said, “After the horror of the second world war, the EU helped to bring an end to centuries of conflict in Europe and for Boris Johnson to make this comparison is both offensive and desperate.”
The European Union was formed as a partnership with the idea to boost business and mutual co-op and has a single currency which is used by 17 of the 28 members of the union. Recently however, for various reasons, UK has been considering whether it wants to stay on in the union or withdraw from it.
Supporters from both sides of the debate took to the streets to step up the campaign for each side, Britain’s exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU) and the opposing side Remain.
Johnson and others would like to free the UK from ‘too many rules’, high levels of immigration and also from the billions of pounds worth of membership fees.
The UK will ‘prosper and thrive and flourish’ outside the EU, Johnson said on the campaign trail in Bristol on Saturday. Johnson believes Brexit would free up business and enable the country to negotiate its own trade deals.
He said those in the ‘Remain’ camp, along with the international financial institutions and foreign officials who have warned of economic decline, were ‘just the establishment trying to scare the pants off people because of vested interests’.
However, those in favor of remaining with the EU assert that staying with the EU would keep the country more secure, more influential and more prosperous.
Big banks, the Treasury, the Bank of England, Downing Street, the Prime Minister, the White House, the International Monetary Fund, Nato, and many more forces of establishment believe that exiting the EU would be disastrous for Britain.
Campaigning in his Oxfordshire constituency, British Prime Minister David Cameron warned the voters that leaving the EU was the ‘last thing the economy needs’ because it would be hit instantly.
Addressing voters on the biggest day of campaigning yet, dubbed Super Saturday, Cameron said: “If we vote to leave on 23 June we will be voting for higher prices, we will be voting for fewer jobs, we will be voting for lower growth, we will be voting potentially for a recession. That is the last thing our economy needs.”
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that Britain could suffer a stock market crash and a fall in housing prices if it severed itself from the union. It also predicted the downgrading of London as a global financial center, and the transfer of London’s dominant foreign exchange market structures to within the Eurozone.
The Bank of England also issued a warning that the British pound could fall sharply.
Countering all these assertions, Mr Johnson said, “This is a chance for the British people to be the heroes of Europe and to act as a voice of moderation and common sense, and to stop something getting in my view out of control.”
He also said that tensions between EU member states had allowed Germany to grow in power within the bloc, ‘take over’ the Italian economy and ‘destroy’ Greece.
A separate poll for Sunday’s newspapers suggested that Johnson is more trusted than Cameron by the public to tell the truth about Europe. A separate poll also showed that chances for either side of the referendum were 50-50.