British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire after he compared the plight of Ukrainians fighting Russia’s invasion of their homeland to Britain’s vote for Brexit.
In one speech At the Conservative Party’s Spring Conference on Saturday, Johnson said the Ukrainian people choose freedom, just as the British people did in the 2016 vote to leave the European Union.
“I know it’s the instinct of the people of this country, like the Ukrainian people, to choose freedom every time,” he said.
“I can give you some famous recent examples. When Britons voted in such large numbers for Brexit, I don’t think it was because they were hostile to foreigners, it was because they wanted to be free to do things differently. and so that this country can run itself.”
The comment drew criticism from politicians in the UK and Europe, including some from Johnson’s own party.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, said Johnson’s remarks were “nonsense”.
“Brexit was about nullifying freedoms and leaving the EU… Ukrainians want more freedom and join the EU!” Verhofstadt noted on Twitter.
Donald Tusk, former president of the European Council, said Johnson’s comments were offensive to Ukrainians and Britons.
“I still remember Putin and Trump’s enthusiasm after the referendum,” Tusk tweeted. “Boris, your words offend Ukrainians, Britons and common sense.”
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the defense select committee, also tweeted criticism of Johnson’s remarks.
“Comparing the Ukrainian people’s struggle against Putin’s tyranny to the British people voting for Brexit detracts from the level of political skill we were beginning to show,” he said. wrote.
Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, called Johnson – who has resisted calls to resign following a series of scandals in recent months – a “national embarrassment”.
“His buffoonery contrasts with the courageous leadership of President Zelensky,” he said. wrote on Twitter. “Comparing a referendum to women and children fleeing Putin’s bombs is an insult to every Ukrainian. He is not [Winston] Churchill: This is Basil Fawlty.”
UK Finance Minister Chancellor Rishi Sunak has defended Johnson in appearances on Sunday morning programmes.
In one appearance on the BBC Sunday morningSunak said: “I don’t think the Prime Minister was making a direct comparison between these two things, clearly they are not directly analogous.”
Sunak added, “He was making general comments about people’s desire for freedom.”
But Labor shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves called on Johnson to apologize for the remarks.
“To compare the fight for freedom and the aggression of the Russian state to the decision to leave the European Union is quite unpleasant and insulting,” Reeves said. Recount News from heaven.
“He should withdraw those words and apologize to the people of Ukraine and the people of Britain for those rude remarks.”
Downing Street has been contacted for comment.