In a major blow for British Prime Minister David Cameron, London Mayor and Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Boris Johnson, has revealed he will campaign for Britain to leave the EU.
His decision ends months of speculation and given his popularity among voters, represents a huge coup for the Leave campaign.
Mr Johnson informed the PM by text just nine minutes before making his statement.
I am a European. I lived many years in Brussels. I rather love the old place. And so I resent the way we continually…
Despite telling reporters that he thought David Cameron had done “fantastically well” in the deal he reached with Brussels, he added no one “could realistically claim that this is fundamental reform of the EU”.
“The last thing I wanted was to go against David Cameron or the Government, but after a great deal of heartache, I don’t think there’s anything else I could do.
“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.”
“What I won’t do is take part in loads of TV debates against other members of my party and I was told what the Prime Minister had to say this morning about not sharing platforms with George Galloway and other individuals, and I won’t do that either.” – Boris Johnson
Mr Johnson also rejected his move was connected to his leadership ambitions.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he was “delighted” at Mr Johnson joining the Leave campaign, but former minister Lord Heseltine issued a statement criticising Mr Johnson, saying: “If it takes you this long to make up your mind about something so fundamental and you still have questions, then surely the right option is to stay with what you know rather than risk our economy and security.”
Mr Johnson joins six other ministers who attend cabinet in backing the campaign to leave after Mr Cameron called a referendum for 23 June.