Fraser Nelson Fraser Nelson

Boris Johnson’s ‘secret’ article is not the smoking gun his critics had hoped for

As part of its preview of Tim Shipman’s keenly-anticipated Brexit book, the Sunday Times today reveals draft article written by Boris Johnson intended to make the case for his voting to stay in the EU. The existence of such an article was known, and a lot of his enemies thought it would expose him as a fraud. In fact, the article (full thing here) reads like an advert for Brexit with a pathetic “but I’m still going to back Cameron” bolted on to the end. It purports to balance both arguments, but weighs in far more favourably for Brexit. It’s not the first time he describes the case for remaining (he revealed his agony in the Daily Telegraph on 7 Feb). So what’s new?

Rather than damn Boris, I suspect his “secret” article will underline the authenticity behind his support for Brexit. Reading his tortured argument reminded me of my own little agony over Brexit: I started off wanting to vote for Remain, hoping that Cameron’s deal would assure me that the EU would reform. But when the deal turned out to be a dud, what to think? How can you convince yourself to forget all of your misgivings? As Boris’s draft article demonstrates, it’s just impossible.

If Boris had published this article, it would have had all the sincerity of a hostage statement – complete with the wink at the end.

Here’s my take:-

Boris starts by saying that Cameron’s ‘deal’ with the EU was useless, and that the mission to fundamentally renegotiate Britain’s membership has ended in abject failure. Which is exactly what he said all the way through the campaign.

This European Union deal is not perhaps everything that we would have liked. It is not what we Eurosceptics were hoping, not when the process kicked off. We were hoping he was going to get really deep down and dirty, in the way that the Bloomberg speech seemed to indicate.

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