Stanley Johnson gave tantalising details on his familys Brexit feud — throwback interview

Ukraine: Stanley Johnson reacts to Boris’ Kyiv visit

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Stanley Johnson, 81, raised eyebrows last week after he said Brexit was “probably a good idea” due to the EU’s lacklustre response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The former MEP’s comments marked an extraordinary U-turn from his pro-Remain position before the 2016 EU referendum, which had put him on a collision course with his son, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who fronted the Leave campaign despite previously voicing pro-EU sentiments.

The Johnson family remains bitterly divided over Britain’s place in the 27-nation bloc, with Stanley’s daughter, Rachel Johnson, and younger son, Jo Johnson, firmly against Brexit.

Stanley has even addressed the family’s internal feuds over Europe.

A reporter for BBC Points West once asked him: “What happens at Christmas lunch?”

Stanley, speaking in 2019, replied: “Well Christmas lunch, you eat the turkey.

“You have to decide, there’s some pretty key decisions to be made.

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“I mean, you’ve got some Remainers on one side and Leavers on the other.

“My line is to say, ‘okay chaps’, what is it going to be? Is it going to be breast or is it going to be thigh?”

The journalist then briefly laughed at Stanley before appearing perplexed, and then asked: “Yeah, and what does Boris say? Does Boris say the same? Does Boris say breast or thigh?”

Stanley then adds: “When I say breast or thigh I’m talking about the turkey, let me be clear. Okay folks.”

At the time of the interview, Stanley’s son, Boris Johnson had been dealt a major blow as his younger brother Jo Johnson resigned from his Cabinet and as an MP.

The then-business minister quit over the Government’s Brexit plan and cited “unresolvable tension” in his position.

The Prime Minister’s sister Rachel also piled pressure on him when she joined the Liberal Democrats in 2017 in protest at the Government’s plans for a hard Brexit, which she claimed would end the free movement of people.

The journalist and author used her Mail on Sunday column to deliver a startling rebuke of her brother, then-Foreign Secretary.

She wrote: “Growth is slowing, with GDP predicted by the CBI to be down five percent by 2020, and on it goes – and Brexit hasn’t even happened yet.

“And therefore for me, this time round, the only way is the Lib Dems, and for this reason: when it comes to Europe, Boris is wrong on this, and they are not ‘wobbling jellies of indecision’.

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“In fact, they have the only sensible plan in place.

“They are campaigning against a ‘hard Brexit’ that would take the UK out of the single market and end free movement of people – and for a second referendum on the terms of any Brexit deal reached with the EU.”

The most recent twist in the Johnson family’s Brexit saga came last week as Stanley appeared to dramatically change tack on the EU.

The veteran Europhile first made his case during an interview on LBC radio, accusing EU leaders of dragging their feet over cutting Russian energy exports and sending arms to Ukraine.

He followed his intervention with an article in The Daily Telegraph in which he explained his position further.

He said: “I write all this as a once impassioned Remainer, but I have to admit that my faith in the ‘European project’ has been shaken.

“I said as much in a recent radio interview, which caused quite a stir, but I stand by my view that Ukraine has shown that Brexit was probably a good idea.

“At this moment, you have to say that Europe needs to pull its socks up.”

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