BORIS JOHNSON has rubbished David Cameron’s warning that peace in Europe is at risk if voters chose to leave the EU at the June referendum.
The Conservative champion of the Vote Leave campaign group said Brexit will not lead to World War Three and said he doubted the Prime Minister even believed his own warning.
The former mayor of London argued that NATO rather than the EU “has been primarily responsible for peace in our time”.
He referenced the Balkans war and recent military action in Ukraine as examples of the EU having designs on a foreign policy role which had “caused real trouble”.
“The principal guarantor of peace on our continent has been NATO,” said Mr Johnson, pouring scorn on Mr Cameron’s claim that EU membership helps broker peace among member states.
“People should think very hard before they make these kinds of warnings.
“I don’t believe that leaving the EU would lead to World War Three breaking out on the EU continent.”
Mr Cameron had at one stage said he would keep an open mind on leaving the EU if he had not been able to negotiate a reforms from the European Council in February.
This has led to questions today on whether the Prime Minister had considered war as a potential outcome of Brexit when he included holding an EU referendum in the party’s manifesto in 2015.
Mr Johnson said: “I don’t think the Prime Minister can seriously believe that leaving the EU would trigger war on the European continent given that he was prepared only a few months ago to urge that people should vote to leave if they failed to get a substantially reformed European Union.
“We have not got a substantially reformed European Union. The thing is virtually identical to before. I think it very, very curious that the Prime Minister is now calling this referendum and warning us that World War Three is about to break out unless we vote to remain. That is not the most powerful argument to remain.”
Mr Cameron said in a speech early on Monday morning in Central London that it had been just 20 years since conflict erupted in the Balkans and had grave concerns about Georgia and Ukraine.
He said: “Whenever we turn our back on Europe we have come to regret it.”
“Can we be so sure that peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt? Is that a risk worth taking?
“I would never be so rash to make that assumption. It has barely been 20 years since war in the Balkans and genocide on our continent in Srebrenica in the last few years we have seen tanks rolling into Georgia and Ukraine. The EU has helped reconcile countries that were once at each other’s throats for decades. That requires British leadership.”
Despite the bold claims of the potential for war if Britain leaves the union, Downing Street reiterated this morning that the Government has no contingency plan following a Brexit vote on how to avert conflict.
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson said: “We are not doing any contingency planning for the referendum being a vote to leave.”
Reports that the Bank of England are working on an economic plan if voters chose to leave the EU were described as a financial matter, and the Government will not make contingency arrangements on policy.
The spokesperson said the premier makes “no apology” for setting out the “risks” of leaving the EU.
He said: “He thinks it’s right to set out the threats and risks to leaving but at the same time it’s right that the British people should be given the opportunity to decide on our membership.”
Mr Johnson used the speech in Central London this morning to present himself forward as a cosmopolitan multi-linguist with a love for European culture. He said he wanted to dispel an assumption that he is “a little Englander”.
But batted away questions on how his passion for Brexit correlates to his personal ambition to one day lead the Conservative Party. Playing down his influence, and value of his intervention with characteristic humour, he said “I am a humble ex-municiple toe-nail”.