Boris Johnson backs Brexit

London's Mayor Boris Johnson has announced that he will campaign for Britain's exiting the EU. He just wants to improve his chances of becoming prime minister, critics write. Others fear his decision to back the Out camp has made a Brexit all the more likely.

Open/close all quotes
Postimees (EE) /

Brexit would suit the Kremlin's interests

Even if London Mayor Boris Johnson has thrown his weight behind the Brexit campaign the risks the UK leaving the EU entails cannot be dismissed, the centre-right daily Postimees comments:

“The money markets reacted to Boris Johnson's support for a Brexit with a drop in share prices - not just because exiting the EU would be more harmful for the British economy than remaining in it, but also because it would entail many imponderables. ... These also have to do with Russia. The analyses put out by [publisher and propaganda researcher] Ben Nimmo on how Russian media are reporting on the Brexit leave no doubt that Britain's leaving the EU would be entirely in the interests of the Kremlin.”

Lietuvos rytas (LT) /

No wonder the British are Eurosceptics

It's easy to understand why the campaign for a Brexit is falling on fertile ground in the UK, the liberal daily Lietuvos rytas notes:

“Even in those countries of Central and Eastern Europe that receive financial support from the EU, there are plenty of Eurosceptics. … And it's even easier to foment frustration in the donor states. It's logical that the UK has turned out to be the weakest link in the EU chain. The British have always seen themselves as somewhat detached from the continent, they joined the community later, and their transatlantic ties with the US are especially strong. Under these circumstances the British are prone to believe that Britain has to give a lot for its EU membership but doesn't get much much back.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Churchill would see the big picture

Boris Johnson's decision is petty and narrow-minded in view of the global challenges Europe faces, the conservative daily Financial Times complains:

“A modern Churchill, which is what Boris clearly aspires to be, would immediately understand that Britain’s decision about whether to stay in the EU has to be seen as part of a wider global picture. And that big picture is very worrying - with Russia rediscovering its taste for war, the Middle East disintegrating, violent jihadism on the rise, China flexing its muscles in the Pacific and the US flirting with the lunacy of 'Trumpism'. ... Given all that, it is depressingly small-minded of Mr Johnson to justify campaigning for Brexit partly on the grounds that Britain might save a bit of money on its contributions to the EU budget.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Johnson's move makes EU exit more likely

A Brexit is even more likely now that Johnson has sided with the Out camp, the conservative daily Die Welt fears:

“His message is seductively simple: the European Union cannot be reformed in its current form and stands in the way of Britain's aspirations to sovereignty. ... British democracy gives a vital role to the umbilical cord between MPs and their voters. Unelected European decision-makers are considered foreign and objectionable. ... Nowhere in Europe is the question of democracy scrutinised as meticulously as in Britain. The British have retained a sense of their distinctive national traits and are even ready to take the leap into independence to preserve them. Already in a precarious state, the EU must now prepare for this eventuality.”

Hospodářské noviny (CZ) /

Brexit as a lift to power

By openly campaigning for a Brexit London Mayor Boris Johnson could end up becoming the next British prime minister, speculates the liberal daily Hospodářské noviny:

“The affable mayor of London is very popular. He has a reputation for saying what he thinks on all subjects even if they have nothing to do with his office, the party or his areas of competence. A former Labour minister described Johnson as an 'intelligent Donald Trump', and he wasn't entirely wrong there. … On the other hand he isn't regarded as a passionate Eurosceptic. It's more that he sees the Brexit as a lift that will raise him to power. … If the British vote to leave the EU on 23 June, which can't be excluded, that would be the end for Cameron as prime minister. And the UK should perhaps already start getting used to the idea of a blonde prime minister with a Russian-sounding name.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

London's mayor lacks credibility

The Mayor of London's support for the Brexit campaign looks very much like a calculated move, the liberal conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung finds:

“Johnson's strategy of using the Brexit as a personal vehicle that will bring him into Downing Street is all too transparent. According to this logic if Cameron suffers a defeat in the June referendum it will free the way for his most prominent rivals to seek the party leadership and the office of prime minister. And this is something the enormously ambitious Johnson has been reaching out for some time now. … It's not surprising that Johnson was immediately accused of lacking political credibility. Why is he suddenly ignoring the interests of the City of London, which for the most part wants the UK to stay in the EU? Why did he keep mum for so long if he's as fierce an opponent of the EU as he claimed to be in his column in the Daily Telegraph on Monday?”

More opinions

The Evening Standard (GB) / 23 February 2016
  Brexit would rid British of EU regulation mania