Boris Johnson has gambled his long-standing ambition to become Britain’s next Prime Minister on winning the referendum to pull the country out of the European Union as he became the most significant Tory to come out in favour of Brexit.
In a statement Mr Johnson said that after a “huge amount of heartache” he had made the “agonisingly difficult” decision to go against David Cameron and “advocate Vote Leave”.
But significantly he suggested that a no vote might not necessarily result in the UK pulling out of the EU altogether instead, creating a “new relationship based upon trade and cooperation”.
Speaking outside his home, Mr Johnson said the EU was “a political project that has been going on for decades, and is now in real danger of getting out of proper democratic control”.
Mr Johnson said he couldn’t “pass up the only chance any of us have in our lifetimes to put an alternative point of view”.
He asked: “Is it better for Britain to remain in Europe as it currently is, or is there a way that we could actually get a better deal that did more for Britain, and restored some control to the people in this country?”
Congratulating David Cameron on doing “fantastically well” in the time he had to negotiate a new deal with Brussels, Mr Johnson addressed comments the Prime Minister made earlier by saying he would not be standing on a podium with “the likes of” George Galloway or Nigel Farage or speaking against members of his own party in TV debates.
His decision nonetheless makes him the natural leader of the leave campaign, and the natural front-runner to become Prime Minister should the country vote “out” in June’s referendum.