The campaign ahead of the Brexit referendum is heating up and it seems nothing is off limits to try to convince voters. Boris Johnson, the former London mayor who has turned into the top campaigner for Britain to leave the European Union, said the 28-nation bloc is trying to create a European superstate that is eerily similar to what Adolf Hitler tried to do. “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods,” Johnson told the Sunday Telegraph. “But fundamentally, what is lacking is the eternal problem, which is that there is no underlying loyalty to the idea of Europe. There is no single authority that anybody respects or understands. That is causing this massive democratic void.”
In the interview, Johnson said the referendum gave Britain another opportunity to save Europe from itself. “This is a chance for the British people to be the heroes of Europe and to act as a voice of moderation and common sense, and to stop something getting in my view out of control,” he said.
The pro-EU camp immediately expressed shock and outrage at the comments, describing them as a desperate attempt to rile up voters and make them forget about the economic cost of leaving the European Union. “Leave campaigners have lost the economic argument and now they are losing their moral compass,” said Hilary Benn, who is a foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Labour Party. “After the horror of the Second World War, the EU helped to bring an end to centuries of conflict in Europe. And for Boris Johnson to make this comparison is both offensive and desperate.”
Several Johnson allies, however, were quick to defend the former mayor. “He’s talking about the trend toward the idea of this concept of some kind of Greater Europe, that’s all,” Iain Duncan Smith, the former pensions secretary who is now on the side of Brexit, told the BBC. “He’s using some historical parallels to explain it, you know as was said earlier on: the Habsburgs, the Holy Roman Empire. All you go through is this idea that somehow there’s this thing called Greater Europe.”