BORIS Johnson, the Mayor of London, has written a strongly worded attack on the EU, in which he claims that Britain's future lies in renewed links with the Commonwealth - or Australia at least.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Johnson describes the EU as a "microclimate of economic gloom, with colossal unemployment and misery". He gives the example of Sally Roycroft, an Australian teacher, who, he claims, has "been effectively kicked out of Britain".
Roycroft, says Johnson, has been told to "bog off by the authorities in our country because it was too much of a palaver to go through the business of sponsoring her to stay". His solution is to give Australians working in the UK the same freedom of movement as EU workers, or as he describes it, a "bilateral Free Labour Mobility Zone".
Australia, insists Mr Johnson, is keen to encourage more immigration to Britain (although he doesn't back this up with any evidence).
Johnson, who is currently in Australia, claims the British are more deeply connected with Australians than any other country on earth. His evidence for this is that, as he walks around Sydney, he has seen "advertisements for the recipes of Jamie Oliver" and met "people who watch Top Gear".
Using his inimitable grasp of colloquialisms that has done so much to convince people the world over that de Pfeffel Johnson (to use his full name) has the common touch, the mayor signs off by saying it is time Roycroft was given "a fair suck of the sauce bottle", though he just about manages to hold back from describing her as a fair dinkum sheila.
Perhaps echoing popular opinion, Johnson's anti-EU stance has hardened over the last year. In May, he claimed that Britain should be ready to leave if David Cameron was not able to renegotiate its membership after the 2015 election. But in January the mayor told the World Economic Forum in Davos that his "overwhelming instinct" would be to vote to stay in the EU if it came to a vote.
In November last year, in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Johnson appeared to backtrack on supporting an in/out referendum on the EU, despite having signed a pledge supporting it, saying it would be better for the UK to renegotiate its relationship with the EU than to withdraw completely.
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