Boris Johnson knew this week's financial disasters would happen – and he also knew he'd never be affected by them

Pro-EU Johnson said in his column that a vote for Brexit could lead to 'economic shock'. Then he told the Treasury select committee in March this year that the EU would result in 'no economic shock' at all 

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The Independent Online

Staying in the EU would have been a “boon for the world,” according to one of the most prominent politicians to lead Britain out of the European Union.

If that jars slightly, that’s because it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. But this is the state of politics in the UK post-Brexit: leading politicians spouting whatever opinion seemingly comes into their heads so long as it has a short-term benefit for their own popularity. And if that clashes with the long-term effects on our country? Well, the British public will just have to like it or lump it.

Until recently, former Mayor of London and current Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson penned a weekly column for The Telegraph.

In one particular column drafted in February this year, Johnson wrote that staying in the EU would be a “boon for the world,” that the free trade zone we’re now very likely to come out of is “a market on our doorstep, ready for further exploitation by British firms,” and that the EU membership fee seemed “rather small for all that access”.

He asked: “Why are we so determined to turn our backs on it?” But turn his back Johnson did, stubbornly, confidently and publicly.

The article has now been published by The Sunday Times for everyone to see, including those who were swayed by Johnson’s position of influence and his promises that a move to leave the EU would be to Britain’s advantage.

Johnson has defended his column on Sky News, displaying a very confused grasp of political satire for someone so familiar with Have I Got News For You as he described it as “semi-parodic”.

Boris Johnson explains why he wrote a newspaper column in favour of staying in the EU

He said the column was a way for him to make alternative cases as he wrestled with which side to take in the run-up to the referendum. But these weren’t scribbles he made in his diary in an effort to align his own personal conflicts; this was a piece of writing set to be published to an audience of thousands of confused voters.

Johnson said in the column that a vote for Brexit could lead to “economic shock”. And those predictions proved correct: the pound has plunged to record lows against dollar and the euro, and keeps falling.

However, “pro-Brexit Johnson” made a pretty good job of convincing us to the contrary. He told the Treasury select committee in March this year that the EU would result in “no economic shock” at all to Britain.

In his not-so-secret column, Johnson also predicted that Scotland would call for another independence referendum.  Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has drawn up plans for exactly this if Britain leaves the single market.

He also warned of the “Putin factor,” and said, “We don’t want to do anything to encourage more shirtless swaggering from the Russian leader, not in the Middle East, not anywhere.”

Last week, Johnson encouraged campaigners to protest outside of the Russian embassy in London, following the country’s alleged actions during the ceasefire in Syria.

The pro-EU Johnson wrote in his column: "Shut your eyes. Hold your breath. Think of Britain. Think of the rest of the EU. Think of the future.

"Think of the desire of your children and your grandchildren to live and work in other European countries; to sell things there, to make friends and perhaps to find partners there.”

This is impressively heartfelt for someone who apparently didn’t believe the words he was writing.

No one knows the difference a pro-EU Johnson could have made. But this is a particularly strange instance of someone at best flip-flopping between ideas and rhetoric, and at worst disregarding the needs of his own country in order to further his career.

The wealthy and privileged Johnson will barely feel the plummeting pound, and no doubt the stress felt by small business owners across Britain hasn’t kept him awake at night, like it has so many others.

Johnson’s pro-EU argument will only fuel worries that we have landed in a “post-truth” era for politics. Or maybe it won’t – I’m only writing this to make the opposite case for what I actually believe in. 

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