Boris Johnson’s father Stanley becomes French citizen

·3-min read
Stanley Johnson supported Remain despite his son Boris being the face of Brexit  (Getty Images)
Stanley Johnson supported Remain despite his son Boris being the face of Brexit (Getty Images)

Boris Johnson’s father has appeared on national TV in France to celebrate “becoming French” – despite thinking that Brexit was “probably a good idea”.

A grinning Stanley Johnson, 81, spoke fluently in the language of Molière when he appeared on BFM – the country’s largest TV news outlet – on Friday morning.

“I’m very happy,” he said. “It means a lot. My mother was born in Paris. For me it’s something very precious, it’s a part of my identity.”

As presenter Bruce Toussaint congratulated him, Mr Johnson read a statement from the Ministry of Justice in Paris confirming that he “acquired French nationality on May 18 2022.”

The statement added: “This decision concerns Mr Stanley Johnson only, and does not extend to his descendants’”

The development means that Mr Johnson retains all the rights of EU citizenship that British subjects lost following Brexit.

He had revealed his intention to apply for French citizenship in December 2020.

A Justice Ministry source in Paris confirmed that Mr Johnson’s application “was successful” and that he would be”‘invited to an official ceremony”.

This would see Mr Johnson welcomed as a bone fide French citizen underneath the Tricolour, with La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, playing.

Mr Johnson said he had technically “always been French” through his mother, Irene Williams, despite being born in Penzance, Cornwell.

“My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandmother,” he said.

“Europe is more than the single market, it’s more than the European Union. I am European in that sense.”

Boris Johnson with his father, Stanley, on the Mayoral campaign train (Alex Lentati)
Boris Johnson with his father, Stanley, on the Mayoral campaign train (Alex Lentati)

Mr Johnson, a former member of the European Parliament, confirmed that he filled out his application at the French consulate in London last November.

As well as being a former MEP, he is also an ex-employee of the European Commission, and lived with his family living in Brussels in the 1970s.

He supported Remain prior to the 2016 EU referendum - putting him at odds with his son Boris Johnson’s position as the figurehead for the Vote Leave campaign.

Both the Prime Minister’s sister, Rachel Johnson, and his younger brother, Jo Johnson, also backed Remain.

But their father has since backtracked on his ‘impassioned’ Remainer stance, using a newspaper article to laud Brexit as “probably a good idea”.

Mr Johnson senior explained how the Ukraine war had “shaken” his faith in the European Union.

He criticised the “naivety of our European neighbours” in their handling of the crisis and their “weak policies” towards Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“At this moment, you have to say that Europe needs to pull its socks up,” Mr Johnson wrote last month.

“Take the example of the Continent’s reliance on oil and gas. Germany is saying that it can’t cut back on its imports of Russian energy, a vital economic lifeline for Mr Putin.

“Well, why isn’t the rest of Europe coming to help Germany do this?”

French law normally prevents children of its citizens from claiming nationality if their family has been abroad for more than 50 years without making use of their rights.

But their applications can still be considered if they can prove ‘concrete ties of a cultural, professional, economic or family nature’ with France - a clause Mr Johnson invoked in his application.

Around 3,100 British people acquired French nationality in 2020, according to the latest figures available from EU statistics agency Eurostat, making France the second most popular choice for acquiring European citizenship, after Germany.

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