London Mayor Boris Johnson announced today that he is throwing his support behind the campaign for the U.K. to leave the European Union, giving a huge boost to the anti-EU movement.
Boris Johnson claims he made this decision with a great deal of heartache in that it runs counter to the wishes of Prime Minister David Cameron.
"I will be advocating vote leave... because I want a better deal for the people of this country to save them money and to take back control," Johnson declared. Several other cabinet members in Cameron's government have also endorsed the so-called Brexit, or leave, movement.
"The move posed a direct challenge to... Cameron, who has launched a major push to keep his country within the 28-nation bloc. The popular, raffish Johnson immediately becomes the most prominent Conservative Party politician to break ranks with fellow Conservative Cameron's vision of the best course for Britain," the Associated Press explained.
David Cameron recently attempted to negotiate some reforms with EU officials, but the British media across the ideological spectrum found the deal lacking.
Cameron previously announced that a referendum on whether the U.K. remains a member the E.U. will take place on June 23, 2016, which set off the various forms of political positioning among officials/coalitions in the country's political parties.
"I would say to Boris what I'd say to everybody else: We will be safer, we'll be stronger, we'll be better off inside the E.U.," the prime minister insisted.Perhaps the most high-profile critic of the EU is Nigel Farage, the leader of the populist U.K. Independence Party, and a member of the European parliament. Ukip (or UKIP) wants to reassert the sovereignty of Britain by exiting the European Union via referendum -- which it has long campaigned for -- including its assorted heavy-handed regulations and taxes, and also, among other things, seeks to clamp down on massive immigration into the U.K., which has come from both third-world countries as well as from Eastern Europe, the latter as a result of EU open-border decrees. The emergence of Ukip is largely responsible for the long-sought-after referendum.
The ongoing crisis in Europe involving huge numbers of Middle Eastern migrants has likely increased voter support for Brexit. "Europe's struggles with the refugee crisis, its persistent economic malaise and its long-standing pattern of dysfunction have all contributed to rising dissatisfaction among Brits — and a growing desire to sever a decades-long relationship," the Washington Post noted.
Ukip received about four million votes in the May 2015, parliamentary election --when Johnson, 51 himself, was elected to the House of Commons as a Tory (a.k.a. Conservative) -- but because of Britain's convoluted electoral procedures, only won one seat.
In that election which the Conservatives unexpectedly won in a landslide, it seemed that Ukip won so many Labor Party voters (who here we would call Reagan Democrats) that it tipped many seats to the Conservatives. In other constituencies, concerned Ukip-leaning voters voted Conservative because of pre-election polling suggesting that Labor could win a majority and form a left-wing government with the separatist Scottish National Party.
Reelected as London mayor in May 2012, for a second term, Boris Johnson is being touted as a possible successor to Cameron if the PM steps down in the post-referendum environment, especially if a majority of the electorate votes to leave the EU.Some are charging that Johnson's Brexit support is function of his ambition to succeed Cameron in the near or longer term.
Johnson, the charismatic and controversial gadfly with the (former) Justin Bieber or "Three Stooges" haircut, was a journalist and television commentator before becoming mayor. He was born to British parents in New York City but has lived in England since he was five. He previously served in the U.K. parliament from 2001 to 2008.
Watch Boris Johnson's announcement that he will support the Brexit campaign."A poll last week found that one in three people viewed [Johnson's] decision as 'important' in helping them decide which way to vote in the referendum -- making his voice the second most influential politician after Mr Cameron," the Daily Mail reported.
Londoners go to the poll on May 5, 2016, to elect a new mayor, about six weeks before the nationwide Brexit referendum which Boris Johnson now supports.
[Photo by Tim Ireland/AP Photos]
Added: Nigel Farage has said that Euro-skepticism crosses political boundaries and party lines. Watch Nigel Farage discuss Brexit and Boris Johnson's "Bo-Go" decision: