UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticized for comparing the Ukrainians’ fight against Russia’s invasion to that of Britons who voted for Brexit.
In a speech on Saturday, Johnson said the British, like the Ukrainians, had an instinct to “choose freedom” and cited the 2016 vote to leave the European Union as a “recent example”.
Johnson’s comments have caused anger among politicians, both in the UK and in Europe.
“I know that the instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, is to choose freedom, always. I can give you a couple of famous recent examples,” Johnson said in his speech at a Conservative Party conference in Blackpool.
“When the British voted for Brexit in such large numbers I don’t think it was because they were remotely hostile to the foreigners”.
“It is because they wanted to be free to do things in a different way and that this country could function on its own.”
In June 2016, the British voted in a referendum which resulted in 52% in favor and 48% against leaving the European Union.
Johnson also cited as an example the British who choseieron get vaccinated against the coronavirus because “they wanted to get on with their lives” and “they were fed up with people like me telling them what to do.”
But Johnson’s remarks, aimed at uniting conservative supporters, have attracted critics political figures in the UK and Europe.
Donald Tusk, former President of the European Council, tweeted: “Boris, your words offend to the Ukrainians, to the British and to common sense”.
Guy Verhofstadt, Belgium’s former prime minister and chief Brexit negotiator in the European Parliament, said the comparison was “crazy”.
For his part, British Finance Minister Rishi Sunak, consulted on the subject by the BBC this Sunday, said: “I don’t think the prime minister was making a direct comparison between these two things, clearly They are not directly analogous.
“I was making some general observations about the desire for freedom of the people,” he added.
Sunak said the prime minister had been galvanizing world opinion to send a strong message to Vladimir Putinand “that’s what we need to focus on.”
Rachel Reeves, an MP from the opposition Labor Party, called on the prime minister to withdraw her comments and apologize.
“The people of Ukraine are fighting for their lives, to draw a parallel to the vote to leave the European Union, in any way, is shameless,” Reeves told the BBC.
Reeves noted that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants to join the European Union and that he “You clearly don’t see that parallel.ism“.
Ukraine requested the accelerated income to the European Union at the end of February, shortly after the Russian invasion.
Zelensky said on Friday that he had spoken with the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and that he hoped they would be made. progress in your application in the coming months.
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