London Evening Standard/London
Boris Johnson yesterday launched a devastating new attack on David Cameron’s EU deal, saying it condemns Britain to be stuck “hook, line and sinker” in an un-reformed Europe.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, he said the country will have no bargaining power left if it votes to stay in the European Union on terms that meant “no real change”.
“We will never be able credibly to argue for any reform in Europe again,” he warned, adding Britain would be “the frog in the boiling saucepan of water”. He went on: “We will be signed up to this thing lock, stock and barrel — hook, line and sinker.”
The Tory truce on Europe shattered yesterday when Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, suggested that Cameron will have to resign as prime minister if the public votes Leave on June 23.
Asked if the premier could stay after losing, he replied: “Yes, constitutionally, of course.” Downing Street is insisting that Cameron’s position would not be affected, fearing that his critics may turn the EU referendum into a showdown on the Tory leader’s future.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith attacked the “spin and smear” tactics of the Remain campaign, saying the acrimony “will I fear have consequences long beyond June 23”.
The City of London Corporation, the Square Mile’s local authority, on Thursday night formally backed a vote to Remain. Policy chairman Mark Boleat said City firms “of all sizes and in different sectors are voicing their concerns about the risks of leaving”.
Labour’s Chuka Umunna piled in: “This is a humiliation for Boris Johnson. The City has made a clear statement that jobs are safer with Britain in Europe.”
Downing Street has effectively taken control of the Remain campaign, co-ordinating powerful interventions by business leaders, military figures and even foreign leaders.
Johnson insisted his relations with the prime minister were “always friendly”.
Asked about Cameron’s attack on him in the Commons — which included a jibe about him using the vote to further his ambitions - Johnson claimed: “I didn’t actually notice. I was so wrapped up in meditation on the European treaties that I’m afraid, whatever it was, passed me by.”
He told the Evening Standard that he finally lost hope that Cameron would restore the sovereignty of parliament after the PM produced drafts of proposals for a new law supposed to make Westminster over-ride the European Court of Justice. “It became obvious that the whole exercise was just, you know, circular,” he said. “It all ends up as an elaborate attempt to suck and blow at once... It just doesn’t work.”
He said prospects were “not encouraging” for Cameron’s deal to be honoured in full by the EU.
Johnson told of his frustration that EU regulations stopped him from doing his job effectively as mayor. He revealed that City Hall was almost forced to spend hundreds of millions on digging wider tunnels for Crossrail 1 so German trains could use them. “What a load of cobblers,” he said. “You are not going to get German trains running on Crossrail.”
He criticised regulations for blocking him from requiring safer lorries “because Renault doesn’t yet have its models ready”. “So, female cyclists get crushed because those tipper trucks are not designed to save lives,” said the mayor.
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