On the day the United Kingdom is breaking up with the European Union, the British prime minister’s father said he was in the process of applying for a French passport.
Stanley Johnson, Boris Johnson’s father, is a former member of the European Parliament who voted to remain in the bloc in Britain’s 2016 EU referendum.
He told RTL radio he wanted to become a French citizen because of strong family links to France.
If his application is accepted, he will become a dual national and acquire a passport of an EU member country, which would give him some advantages in terms of travel.
“If I understand it correctly, I am French. My mother was born in France, her mother was totally French as was her grandfather. So for me, it is about reclaiming what I already have. And that makes me very happy,” said the 80-year-old Johnson, who was speaking in French.
“I will always be a European, that’s for sure. One cannot tell the British people: you are not Europeans. Having a tie with the European Union is important,” he added.
His son Boris was the public face of the Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum and says Britain can “prosper mightily” as a fully sovereign nation outside what he sees as an overly bureaucratic EU.
But on Wednesday the prime minister sounded a more conciliatory note as parliament approved a new trade deal with the EU, saying: “This is not the end of Britain as a European country. We are in many ways the quintessential European civilisation … and we will continue to be that.”
The UK officially leaves the EU’s orbit on Thursday night, after an often strained 48-year liaison with the European project.
The move will see Britons lose the automatic right to live and work in the 27 EU countries, but those with dual nationality will still be able to do so.