Boris Johnson said he was a 'fan' of the EU and wanted Britain to stay in the Single Market after Brexit

Boris Johnson said he was a 'fan' of the EU and wanted Britain to stay in the Single Market after Brexit

boris johnson brexit


Boris Johnson

  • Boris Johnson won the race to become Britain's new prime minister with a promise to deliver a hard exit from the European Union.
  • He promised to deliver Brexit "do or die," committing to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, even without a deal.
  • However, some of Johnson's colleagues suspect he does not really believe in the Brexit project he is pursuing.
  • Before joining the campaign to leave the EU Johnson repeatedly called for Britain to retain close ties with the EU.
  • Visit Business Insider's home page for more stories.

Boris Johnson has won the race to become Britain's prime minister with a pledge to deliver Brexit "do or die."

The former foreign secretary beat his opponent Jeremy Hunt by promising to take Britain out of the EU, and its institutions, with or without a deal, on October 31.

The pitch successfully won over the strongly anti-EU Conservative party membership. However, some of his colleagues have strong doubts about whether Johnson really believes in the project he is pursuing.

Indeed in the past, Johnson has been a strong advocate for Britain remaining closely tied to the European Union.


Here are all the times Johnson has made the case against Brexit. 

"I am in favour of staying in the single market"

Boris Johnson


Since joining the campaign for Brexit, Johnson has said that remaining in the EU single market would be "ludicrous," and a "betrayal" of the vote to leave the EU which would turn Britain into a "colony."

However, this was very far from his position before the referendum.

"I would vote to stay in the single market," Johnson told Sky News in 2013.

"I'm in favour of the single market. I want us to be able to trade freely with our European friends and partners."



"Personally, I would like to stay in the single market," he added during a visit to Paris that year.

"We need to stay in the council of ministers of the internal market. In my view, the British have done good things for Europe."

Staying in the single market is "essential and deliverable"

In fact, such was Johnson's enthusiasm for current EU trade rules, that he at one point called for the Brexit referendum to be on the question of whether to stay in a reformed EU, which was just "boiled down" to the single market.

"We could construct a relationship with the EU that more closely resembled that of Norway or Switzerland - except that we would be inside the single market council, and able to shape legislation," Johnson said, adding that such an arrangement would be "essential and deliverable."


"If we did not have [the EU] we would have to invent it"

Boris Johnson

REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Boris Johnson gestures as he leaves 10 Downing Street as Britain's re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron names his new cabinet, in central London, Britain, May 11, 2015.

Johnson has claimed that the EU has always been intent on creating a "superstate" that wants to rob Britain of its sovereignty.

However, this is a long way from Johnson's previous position on Europe.

"I am not by any means an ultra-Eurosceptic. In some ways, I am a bit of a fan of the European Union," Johnson told the House of Commons in 2003.

"If we did not have one, we would invent something like it," he added.

And while the Leave campaign later majored on raising fears about the EU expanding to include Turkey and other countries in the East, Johnson was actually one of the biggest advocates of Turkey becoming a member. In 2003 he told the Commons that those opposing Turkey's potential ascension to the EU were "foolish."


The most "pro-immigration" politician in Britain

Boris Johnson

Dan Kitwood / Getty

Johnson has claimed that Britain's EU membership led to the suppression of the wages of its "indigenous" people.

"We also need to ask ourselves some hard questions about the impact of 20 years of uncontrolled immigration by low-skilled, low-wage workers - and what many see as the consequent suppression of wages and failure to invest properly in the skills of indigenous young people," he wrote in the Sun.

However, during the period when Johnson was elected twice for mayor of London, he claimed to be the most pro-immigration politician in the country.

"I'm probably about the only politician I know of who is actually willing to stand up and say that he's pro-immigration," Johnson said in 2013.

And far from arguing for an immigration clampdown, the then mayor of London would regularly boast of the benefits of EU immigration to the capital and even called for an amnesty for illegal immigrants living in the country.


Johnson wrote an article arguing against Brexit

boris johnson michael gove

Mary Turner / Getty

When Johnson sat down to write his endorsement for the Brexit campaign, he also privately wrote another article arguing the complete opposition. 

In the article he suggested remaining in the European Union would be a "boon for the world and for Europe."

"This is a market on our doorstep, ready for further exploitation by British firms," Mr Johnson wrote.

"The membership fee seems rather small for all that access.

"Why are we so determined to turn our back on it?"


Johnson later claimed the article was merely a "thought experiment."

However, some of his own friends and allies are more sceptical.

Friends of Johnson have told Business Insider that they believe he never really wanted to leave the EU, with one long-term ally saying that the decision to back the Leave campaign had been purely about his career.

One former colleague said that Johnson's Brexit U-turn was "all about the leadership," and was in reality a cynical bet he made in order to win over Conservative party members and become prime minister.

As he steps into 10 Downing Street, that bet appears to have paid off.


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