UK Prime Minister David Cameron offered London mayor Boris Johnson a cabinet level position if Johnson would back the “In” camp.
Cameron’s bribe failed. Johnson Opted for Brexit.
Boris Johnson has come out in support of the campaign for the UK to leave the EU, defying pleas by David Cameron to back continued membership in a referendum on June 23.
The London mayor emerged from his home at 5pm to announce his “agonisingly difficult” decision to support a Brexit vote, claiming that the EU was “out of proper democratic control”.
“I don’t think anyone can realistically claim this is a fundamental reform of the EU or of the British relationship with the EU,” he told reporters.
Mr Johnson added: “I will be advocating Vote Leave, or whatever the team is called, because I want a better deal for the people of this country: to save them money and take back control, I think really this is what this is all about.”
Mr Cameron had sought to persuade Mr Johnson to back the In campaign: he offered the London mayor a cabinet job, pleaded with him on three occasions over the past week and haggled with the mayor over the details of a sovereignty law to curtail EU powers.
Michael Gove, the justice secretary, said the EU was “mired in the past” as he joined five other senior ministers in announcing plans to campaign for a British exit from the EU.
If Mr Johnson and his fellow Brexiteers prevail on June 23, there are doubts about whether David Cameron could continue as prime minister, not after having fought “heart and soul” to keep Britain in the EU.
Reactions in Europe
In the UK, most believe Cameron did not win enough concessions. In the rest of Europe, most major newspapers across the continent bemoan the fact that Cameron got too much. Only the German press liked the deal.
Please consider Reactions Across Continental Europe.
Germany’s right-leaning Welt am Sonntag said that Mr Cameron had gone beyond his agenda and reformed the entire European Union. “Cameron has done the whole union an invaluable service,” the editorial read, by forcing the EU to forgo a political union, “the grand delusion of Germany’s European policy”.
Centre-left daily Le Monde said that the deal was a “success for the British conservative leader” and that he “won not insignificant concessions on the four points that he wanted.” This gave the UK a “special status” Europe.
It worried that this victory “amplified the movement towards Europe à la carte” and puts added pressure on a Europe already under strain from the migrant crisis. “The divisions and lack of solidarity in Europe has never seemed so deep,” it said.
Leftwing daily Liberation said that concessions made to satisfy the latest bout of “British hysteria” risked a “dangerous spiral” for Europe. “What will stop Poland or Hungary organising their own referendum?” it wrote.
The EU deal met a frosty reception in the Spanish press, with an editorial in the Sunday edition of El País declaring that the EU had “paid a high and unjustifiable price to secure the continued membership of a wayward partner”.
It carried a separate piece saying that the deal was “good advertising” for anti-European parties, including France’s far-right Front National.
The more conservative El Mundo daily echoed that sentiment on Sunday, saying European leaders had been forced to produce a “tailor-made suit” for the British prime minister. Mr Cameron, it said, had put the other EU leaders “on the spot to save his own political skin” and behaved “like a true pyromaniac”.
In Italy, which has long been one of the staunchest advocates for further EU integration, commentators lamented a deal that they viewed as a blow to the European project.
“The real consequence of the summit is extraordinarily important: Brussels has officially enshrined a multi-speed Europe,” Romano Prodi, the former Italian prime minister and former president of the EU Commission, wrote in Il Messaggero, Rome’s leading daily newspaper.
Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaper said British voters had the potential to create a “political earthquake” which could throw the EU into the “most difficult crisis in its history”.
What a lot of unjustified pissing and moaning (or cheering in the case of Germany) by the European press. Cameron won essentially nothing. The referendum is on June 23.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock