Does Boris Johnson remember what he said?

Jon Danzig |

Who knows what Boris Johnson really believes, least of all him?

He previously said “what most people in this country want is the single market”, and he would personally vote to remain a member of it.

He told the BBC Andrew Marr Show in 2012: ″We would like a new relationship. And it’s very simple – what most people in this country want is the Single Market, the Common Market.”

In the same year, he told BBC Radio Five Live, “Whether you have an in/out referendum now, I can’t quite see why it would be necessary.”

He added that the prospect of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU would not “appeal”.

Mr Johnson asked, “Suppose Britain voted tomorrow to come out: what would actually happen?”

He continued:

“We’d still have huge numbers of staff trying to monitor what was going on in the community, only we wouldn’t be able to sit in the council of ministers, we wouldn’t have any vote at all. Now I don’t think that’s a prospect that’s likely to appeal.”

In The Telegraph in May 2013, Boris Johnson wrote that if Britain left the EU, “we would have to recognise that most of our problems are not caused by Bwussels” [sic].

In his article, titled ‘Quitting the EU won’t solve our problems, says Boris Johnson,’ he responded that, “the question of EU membership is no longer of key importance to the destiny of this country”.

Mr Johnson added that he supported an EU referendum – but warned that Britain’s problems will not be solved by simply leaving the EU as many of his Conservative colleagues apparently believed.

The then Mayor of London asserted:

“If we left the EU, we would end this sterile debate, and we would have to recognise that most of our problems are not caused by ‘Bwussels’, but by chronic British short-termism, inadequate management, sloth, low skills, a culture of easy gratification and underinvestment in both human and physical capital and infrastructure.”

He added:

“Why are we still, person for person, so much less productive than the Germans? That is now a question more than a century old, and the answer is nothing to do with the EU. In or out of the EU, we must have a clear vision of how we are going to be competitive in a global economy.”

On February 21 2016 – four months before the referendum – Mr Johnson stunned the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, by announcing he was joining the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union.

Winston Churchill’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames, immediately Tweeted: “Whatever my great friend Boris decides to do I know that he is NOT an outer.”

Just two weeks previously, Mr Johnson had written in his Telegraph column:

“It is also true that the single market is of considerable value to many UK companies and consumers, and that leaving would cause at least some business uncertainty, while embroiling the Government for several years in a fiddly process of negotiating new arrangements, so diverting energy from the real problems of this country – low skills, low social mobility, low investment etc – that have nothing to do with Europe.”

Just before deciding to back the Leave campaign, Mr Johnson also penned a pro-Remain column for the Telegraph in which he wrote that Britain’s continued membership of the EU would be a “boon for the world and for Europe”.

Johnson wrote of the EU: “This is a market on our doorstep, ready for further exploitation by British firms. The membership fee seems rather small for all that access. Why are we so determined to turn our back on it?”

But the column was never published, and a few days later Mr Johnson decided instead to back Brexit.

A spokesman for the ‘Remain’ campaign commented at the time, “Everybody in Westminster knows that Boris doesn’t really believe in Out. He’s putting his personal ambition before the national interest.”

Of course, all this might have a simpler explanation. Boris Johnson might have changed his mind.

But if he can change his mind, why won’t he allow the rest of the country to express a change of mind in a new vote?

The latest YouGov polls show that the Leave ship is sinking, with 2,400 Brexiters changing their minds across the UK every day, compared with only about 300 Remainers changing their minds.

Boris, you’re backing the wrong ship. Time to swap sides (again).

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