Boris Johnson is an ‘unrepentant and inveterate liar’, says former French ambassador to UK

Sylvie Bermann was France’s top diplomat in the UK during the EU referendum

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Thursday 25 February 2021 13:03
Then French Ambassador to Britain, Sylvie Bermann with Boris Johnson in July 2016
Then French Ambassador to Britain, Sylvie Bermann with Boris Johnson in July 2016

Boris Johnson is an "unrepentant and inveterate liar", who will blame the problems of Brexit on coronavirus, France's former ambassador to the UK has said.

In her new book Sylvie Bermann, France's top representative in London during the EU referendum, said the prime minister uses “lies to embellish reality, as a game and as instrument of power".

Describing the prime minister's approach, she said: "The ends justify the means. He has no rules.”

As French ambassador to Britain between 2014 to 2017 Ms Bermann is among her country's most senior diplomats. She has also previously represented her country as ambassador to China and to Russia.

Her book, Goodbye Britannia, the top former diplomat characterises the Brexiter mindset of "reciting a history in which the UK is never defeated, never invaded”.

This was driven by the idea of a "history that stopped in June 1944”, she said.

Admitting she did not expect the EU referendum to be lost, she said: “How this country whose influence had been decisive in Brussels, which insolently rolled out the red carpet for French entrepreneurs and which Xi Jinping had elected in October 2015 as the gateway to Europe, at the dawn of a golden period, how has it undertaken to scuttle itself?”

“Boris Johnson’s temptation will be to hide the bill for Brexit under the Covid carpet, valued at more than £200bn for 2020, almost as much as the United Kingdom’s total contribution to the European Union since its accession in 1973, which was £215bn.”

Ms Bermann's comments recall those of Emmanuel Macron, who in 2018 branded leading Brexiteers such as Mr Johnson "liars" who "left the next day so they didn’t have to manage it".

Asked on Thursday about the ambassador's comments, the prime minister's spokesperson said: "We completely reject that characterisation. We delivered on what we promised the British people in both the 2019 election and previously during the referendum in terms of returning sovereignty. We've now taken back control of our borders, our laws, and our money."

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