Cannes, 19 March 2022
by Mark Porter
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson compared the invasion of Ukraine by Russia to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016 in a “grotesque” comparison that defied logic and judiciousness in equal measure, uniting the whole of the Conservative party on the vexed subject of Europe for the first time since the Referendum.
He argued both examples showed the two countries’ willingness to fight for their freedom.
“I know that it’s the instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom every time,” Johnson said at the Conservative Party Conference Saturday, with the Brexit vote a “famous recent example.”
“When the British people voted for Brexit in such large numbers, I don’t believe it was that they were remotely hostile to foreigners,” he said. “It’s because they wanted to be free to do things differently and for this country to be able to run itself.”
Johnson reiterated the U.K.’s support to the Ukrainian people in their fight against Russia’s aggression. He said the economic sanctions taken against Russia have a “cost” but that “the cost of doing nothing would be far, far higher.”
The comparison was condemned by Tory peer Lord Barwell, who pointed out Ukraine is actively seeking to join the EU.