Conservative minister Anna Soubry has criticised the role of “personalities” in the debate about Britain leaving the European Union and says no one really cares about what Boris Johnson thinks.
Speaking on Monday afternoon, the Minister for Small Business warned that campaigns for both the “In” and “Out” sides of the Brexit referendum risk alienating the general public, and “boring” people if they allow their campaigns to be dominated by individuals.
Here’s what she had to say (emphasis ours):
People are going to be bored rigid if this is all about personalities… Nobody gives a monkeys whether Boris thinks this or that. It is not about personality arguments, it’s about the debate, and people want to know the facts.
Forgive me, but if the media gets — as they are seeming to do — obsessed with ruddy personalities, huge swathes of the British public will be hugely turned off. Especially if it goes on like this for the next three months. So people need the facts.
Soubry was speaking at an event for small businesses at the London offices of FTSE100 software giant Sage, which is running a campaign to get small and medium sized businesses involved in the Brexit debate. The campaign has been spurred on by the fact that small businesses “do not feel included in the discussion” about Brexit, according to Sage’s European president, Brendan Flattery.
Soubry’s comment on Johnson’s role in the referendum is interesting given his prominent position in the debate so far. Johnson has made headlines in recent weeks after announcing his intention to campaign for the UK to leave the EU, after massive speculation about which side he would fight for.
The day after Johnson announced his voting intentions the pound fell off a cliff. A poll conducted on behalf of the Evening Standard also directly contradicts Soubry’s position, with a third of voters saying Johnson’s position is “important” in deciding which way they will vote.
Some commentators have argued that Johnson’s move is motivated by personal concerns, and by a desire to eventually become Prime Minister.