Boris Johnson: Tony Blair is an 'epic tosser' for warning against EU vote

Tony Blair

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has called Tony Blair an “epic, patronising tosser”, for saying Britain should not hold a referendum on EU membership, it has been reported.

In comments that a source said were largely made in jest, Johnson – who is also the Conservative candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip – attacked the former prime minister over his speech in support of Labour’s current leader Ed Miliband.

Last week, Blair used the speech in his old County Durham constituency to highlight the potential consequences if the next government holds a vote on EU membership.

“Think of the chaos produced by the possibility, never mind the reality, of Britain quitting Europe. Jobs that are secure suddenly insecure; investment decisions postponed or cancelled; a pall of unpredictability hanging over the British economy.”

Blair said a decision to leave Europe would “say a lot” about Britain – and none of it, he said, good.

“That an adventurous country has become a timid one, that one with global ambitions has opted to be a parochial bystander, that a country known for its openness to the world shuts the open door nearest to it, that a nation which has built its history on confidence towards others defines itself by resentment to others, that – with all the challenges of the world crowding in upon us, demanding strong and clear leadership – instead of saying: ‘Here’s where the world should go’, we say: ‘Count us out’.”

But, while out campaigning in support of his Conservative colleague Simon Marcus – the candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn – Johnson backed the Tories’ plans to call a referendum, should it form the next government. His comments were first reported by the Sun on Sunday.

David Cameron has promised the vote, but said he would campaign for continued membership.

The prime minister’s critics have pointed out that, in 2007, he made a “cast iron” promise to hold a referendum should he become prime minister, which he did not keep.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Kevin Rawlinson, for theguardian.com on Sunday 12th April 2015 19.41 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010