Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor of London, has backed the idea of Britain leaving the European Union in a column for The Telegraph that suggests the only reason some countries stay members of the EU is because they’re terrified of Putin’s Russia.
He took that position despite a report from his own economic advisors, which is expected to estimate that £26 billion could be wiped off London’s GDP by 2034 if the U.K. leaves Europe, according to the Guardian.
Johnson, widely expected to stand as a Conservative MP in a general election next year, went further in his anti-Europe position than prime minister David Cameron, who is currently trying to renegotiate the terms of Britain’s EU membership. Cameron has said Britain should hold a referendum on EU membership in 2017, assuming the Conservatives win the election again.
The Conservative U.K. government has become completely estranged from Europe since Cameron opposed the appointment of its current president, Jean-Claude Juncker.
Johnson’s column tried to knit together the horror of the Nazi suppression during Poland’s Warsaw uprising in 1944, the Soviet control of Poland during the Cold War that followed, and the amount of regulation demanded by the current EU government in Brussels. It concluded that Poland only remained an EU member because the thought of going back to the Russians under Putin was too horrifying to contemplate:
When you look at the cost of EU social policy, the stagnation of the EU economies, the continuing absurdities of some Brussels regulation, we are plainly getting to the stage where it might well be better to quit an unreformed EU than to stay in.
… In the case of Poland, we must accept — whether it is logical or not — that Putin is currently the most effective recruiting-sergeant for Brussels.
Johnson is hoping his case will be backed by a report from his economic adviser, expected Wednesday, that shows London’s economy will not be harmed by an exit from Europe. That report will estimate that London’s GDP will be reduced by an exit from Europe:
The Lyons Report is expected to include findings that London’s GDP of £350bn — about a fifth of the UK economy — can be expected to grow to £640bn by 2034 if Britain stays in a reformed EU oriented towards trade with growing markets in the rest of the world, but would still expand to £614bn if the UK quit to pursue its own trade-friendly policies.
The Telegraph had a similar set of numbers. But the Financial Times said the report, from economic advisor Gerard Lyons, contained a variety of scenarios, some of which show Britain may gain economically by leaving.
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