‘Flip-Flop’ Johnson: Five Times Boris U-Turned on Brexit, the EU, and Trump

UXBRIDGE, ENGLAND - MAY 08: (Alternate crop of #472458768) Boris Johnson, Conservative candidate for Uxbridge celebrates on stage following his win as he attends the count at Brunel University London on May 8, 2015 in Uxbridge, England. The United Kingdom has gone to the polls to vote for a new …
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In the weeks leading up to Boris Johnson’s election as leader of the Conservative Party, thereby becoming the prime minister, the Leave campaigner had pledged to take the UK out of the EU on October 31st, with or without a deal.

However, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has expressed doubt whether Mr Johnson will deliver, warning that Johnson’s positions on key issues such as immigration are unclear and that he “flips and flops”.

“It’s very difficult to know how sincere Boris is when he says he’s taking us out on the 31st of October. My feeling is they are words to get elected and I’ll be very surprised if he delivers,” Mr Farage said in early July, with Mr Johnson having u-turned on a number of key issues over the years.

Johnson praised the U.S. President he had once said was “clearly out of his mind” 

In December 2015, before Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States, then London mayor Boris Johnson jumped on the Hate Trump bandwagon and said that he would not go to certain parts of New York City because he faced the “real risk of meeting Donald Trump”.

He then said the successful American businessman was “unfit to hold the office of President of the United States” and was “clearly out of his mind” for considering a temporary halt on Islamic immigration in the wake of mass casualty terror attacks in San Bernardino, California, and Europe committed by Muslim immigrants.

By January 2017, Mr Johnson had praised President Trump’s “very exciting agenda of change” and in June 2019, said the President had “many good qualities” and acknowledged President Trump’s achievement for growing the U.S.’s economy.

Boris backed Turkish membership of the European Union

Throughout the 2016 referendum campaign, the establishment Vote Leave warned that continued membership of the European Union would open up the UK to uncontrolled migration from not just the EU27, but in time from a number of accession states in the Balkans and Turkey, which has a Muslim-majority population of 80 million.

In March 2016, Buzzfeed unearthed footage from a 2006 BBC documentary where Mr Johnson — a self-professed “proud descendent of Turkish immigrants” — made an impassioned argument for the near-east nation to join the European bloc and for the continent to shake off its historic association of being a solely Christian land.

Years later, Boris Johnson claimed to a Channel 4 journalist that he “didn’t say anything about Turkey during the referendum”, either for or against its membership, and “since I made no remarks…I can’t disown them”.

However, in January 2019 the BBC fact-checked that assertion, reporting that, in fact: “Boris Johnson talked about the issue of Turkey joining the EU several times in the lead-up to 23 June 2016 and was co-signatory of a letter to the prime minister warning about Turkish membership a week before the vote.”

Mr Johnson had said on The Andrew Marr Show during the 2016 campaign: “Frankly I don’t mind whether Turkey joins the EU, provided the UK leaves the EU… It is the government’s policy that Turkey should join the EU.”

In September 2016, three months after the vote to Leave, foreign secretary Mr Johnson announced that the UK would “help Turkey in any way” to join the EU.

Johnson: The UK’s membership of the EU is a “boon for the world and for Europe”

In October 2016, The Sunday Times revealed an unpublished column written by Mr Johnson which favoured the UK staying in the EU.

Calling the EU’s continued membership of the EU a “boon for the world and for Europe” in the unpublished Telegraph piece written in February 2016, Mr Johnson wrote: “This is a market on our doorstep, ready for further exploitation by British firms. The membership fee seems rather small for all that access. Why are we so determined to turn our back on it?”

The then-foreign secretary said the piece was “semi-parodic” in tone and was used by him as a means to wrestle through his own thought processes on Britain’s future in the EU.

Speaking to Sky News after the release, the Vote Leave campaigner said he then put the two columns — one pro-Leave, one pro-Remain — “side by side and it was blindingly obvious what the right thing to do was, and I think the people made the right decision, they voted very substantially to leave the European Union, that is what we’re going to do and we’re going to make a great success of it”.

“Flip flop” Johnson voted for the withdrawal agreement he had previously called a “turd” 

After writing a number of columns condemning Theresa May’s withdrawal treaty, arguing it would reduce the UK to a “vassal state” or “colony” of the EU, Mr Johnson backed the bill on its third vote in March 2019.

Criticising Mr Johnson for voting for the deal, Mr Farage had said in May: “Never mind turkeys voting for Christmas, this was more like Spartacus voting for slavery. Now Boris pledges that the UK will definitely leave the EU on 31 October, ‘Brexit deal or no deal’. But why should we trust him to keep his word?”

Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice said last month that the leadership frontrunner’s shift from calling the Withdrawal Agreement Bill a “turd” to voting for it revealed that Mr Johnson “does flip-flop around”.

“He did write all sorts of positive things — why the withdrawal agreement that Theresa May had negotiated was a terrible deal. He voted against it twice… and then he flip-flopped and voted for it,” Mr Tice told the BBC.

“What sort of confidence and trust have you got in someone that is prepared to sell our country down the river at the third time of asking?” he asked.

Johnson refused to commit to lowering immigration post-Brexit

On the campaign trail in July, Johnson would not commit to lowering net migration — as the Tories have pledged in three successive governments under two prime ministers to the “tens of thousands” — post-Brexit, saying that rather the people had voted to take “control” of immigration.

Members of the media were quick to point out that that was not what Mr Johnson promised three years ago when asked if be wanted to lower immigration after the UK left the EU, saying unequivocally at the time: “Yes, I do.”

A prime minister’s Brexit pledge

Outgoing Prime Minister May had pledged 108 times that the UK would leave the EU on March 29th, 2019, with or without a withdrawal agreement; however, Mrs May then delayed Brexit twice to October 31st, leaving Brexiteers wary of prime ministers’ promises.

Writing in the Express last month, Mr Farage said: “When I hear Boris say we will leave on the 31st of October, I am reminded that Mrs May told us 108 times that we would leave on the 29th of March.”

“The one thing we can surely agree with Mr Johnson about is that, if they fail to deliver a proper Brexit by that deadline, the Tory Party may well ‘kick the bucket’. And it will surely deserve whatever kicking it gets from voters,” he added.

Can Prime Minister Boris be trusted to deliver on what he promises? Time will tell.

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