Advertisement

Boris Johnson bites back (gently) at Juncker's EU invitation

Boris Johnson has responded by letter to Jean-Claude Juncker's invitation to 'come back to Brussels'. Credit: Reuters

Much earlier this morning, I asked the European Commission President at his press conference at the G7 summit if he could ever work with Boris Johnson after the comments the former London Mayor made about the EU and Hitler.

Jean-Claude Juncker responded, and failed to hide his contempt for the prominent pro-Leave campaigner in the EU referendum.

"It's time for [Boris Johnson] to come back to Brussels," he told me, "in order to check...if everything he is telling the British people is in line with reality. I don't think so."

Tonight Boris Johnson has responded.

In a politely worded letter, he accepts the invitation to come to Brussels, and says: "I would very much welcome the chance to explain how [leaving the EU] would be of benefit both to this country and the rest of the EU."

And then he turns the tables on his European nemesis.

I would also like to extend an invitation to you.

Many parts of Britain - many families and small businesses - have been damaged by our EU membership... I have no doubt it will help inform the debate and give you a better understanding as you attempt to reform the machinery of the EU.

– Boris Johnson in letter to Jean-Claude Juncker

Unlike other recent late night responses from Vote Leave, this letter shows no sign of animosity.

Previous late evening responses to ITV's announcement of a TV programme involving Ukip leader Nigel Farage and to the Institute for Fiscal Studies report into Brexit have been criticised for the tone and put Vote Leave on the defensive in the following hours.

Working relations in the future between Juncker and Johnson could be tricky. Credit: Reuters

I suspect Mr Juncker will not take up Boris Johnson on his invitation.

Imagine the chaotic scenes as a forceful campaigner for Brexit toured parts of Britain with the chief bureaucrat in Brussels.

And Mr Juncker would also be left in the awkward position of having to explain what his chief of staff meant today when he tweeted about a 'horror scenario' of Boris Johnson being prime minister in the UK and Donald Trump being president in the US.

And looking beyond the referendum, what happens to his working relations with the EU if Boris Johnson becomes a government minister?

It would be tricky, to say the least.

  • Boris Johnson's response in full:

Dear Mr Juncker

You very imaginatively suggested today that I might like to visit Brussels, so that I could better inform myself of your work and your plans for the future development of the EU. I would like to take you up on your suggestion.

As you may know, I believe that the time has come for a real and thoroughgoing reform of Britain's relations with the European Union and that the only way we in this country can take back control of our democracy is to vote leave on June 23.

I believe that we should develop a more harmonious and practical relationship between Britain and other European countries, and that this should be done on the basis of free trade and intensive intergovernmental cooperation. I would much welcome the chance to explain how this would be of benefit both to this country and the rest of the EU. I would also like to extend an invitation to you. Many parts of Britain - many families and small businesses - have been damaged by our EU membership. It would be wonderful if you could visit some of these places and meet some of those people with me. I have no doubt it will help inform the debate and give you a better understanding as you attempt to reform the machinery of the EU.

As you mentioned, I have happy memories of the beautiful city of Brussels and I look forward to seeing you in the near future.

With best wishes

Yours sincerely

– Boris Johnson