British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s father Stanley confirmed plans on Thursday to seek French citizenship as the free movement of Britons in the EU comes to an end under the Brexit pact delivered by his son.
Speaking to France’s RTL radio in French, Stanley Johnson said: “It’s not a question of becoming French. If I understand correctly I am French! My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandfather.
“For me it’s a question of obtaining what I already have and I am very happy about that,” the 80-year-old added.
He worked for the European Commission and served as a member of the European Parliament.
He initially campaigned against leaving the EU before changing his mind a year after Britain voted to leave the union in 2016.
“I will always be European, that’s for sure,” he told RTL.
“You can’t tell the English: you’re not European. Europe is more than the single market, it’s more than the European Union.”
“That said, to have a link like that with the EU is important,” he said, apparently referring to an EU passport.
More British seeking French nationality
Johnson senior’s announcement was not well received in some quarters of British society.
Chris Rennard, a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, said Stanley Johnson deserved the “brass neck of the year award… for being able to preserve his personal benefits of EU citizenship through a French passport application.
“This is something which his son Boris is denying from tonight to 67 million UK citizens.”
Billy Kelleher, a member of the European parliament for Ireland, which has the EU’s only land border with Britain, linked Stanley’s Johnson’s decision to the UK’s withdrawal from the continent-spanning Erasmus student exchange programme.
“So when Mr Stanley Johnson is enjoying a glass of wine in France no British students will enjoy studying there,” Kelleher tweeted.
“Hopefully Boris Johnson’s father can convince him of the wonders of Europe,” he added.
The French aily Liberation described the news as “a family drama to close the final episode of the good old Brexit saga”.
Stanley Johnson’s plans to seek a French passport had already been revealed by his daughter Rachel in a book published in March.
She wrote that her grandmother was born in Versailles and said that if her father received French citizenship she too would like to become French.
The UK’s tortuous departure from the European Union takes full effect at 2300 GMT when an 11-month transition post-Brexit transition period comes to an end.
The number of British nationals seeking French citizenship has exploded since Britain’s 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU.
In 2016, the number was 439. The following year it rose to 1,605.
In 2019, the number of Brits obtaining French nationality rose to 3,827.
© Agence France-Presse