Boris’s dad Stanley Johnson – who used to be a Remainer but now says Brexit was ‘probably a good idea – becomes a French citizen

  • Stanley Johnson has seen his application for French nationality approved 
  • PM’s father previously supported Remain but now thinks Brexit was ‘a good idea’
  • The 81-year-old was born in Cornwall to his French mother, Irene Williams 

Boris Johnson’s father is keeping ties to the EU – despite having ditched his Remainer views – by taking up French citizenship.

Stanley Johnson, a former member of the European Parliament, has seen his application for French nationality approved.

The 81-year-old filed his citizenship application at the French consulate in London in November last year.

And a six-month deadline for France’s justice ministry to object to his application has now elapsed.

Mr Johnson was born in Cornwall with his ties to France coming through his French mother, Irene Williams.

He speaks the language fluently and has previously claimed his bid for French citizenship was only ‘a question of obtaining what I already have’.

Stanley Johnson, 81, backed Remain prior to the 2016 EU referendum – but now he says Brexit was ‘probably a good idea’

Boris Johnson was the figurehead for the Vote Leave campaign and his support for the UK’s exit from the EU put him at odds with most of his family

Confirming his request had been approved, France’s justice ministry said: ‘Based on the facts in his application, and without a refusal by the justice minister, Mr Stanley Johnson acquired French nationality on 18th May, 2022.

‘This decision concerns only Mr Stanley Johnson and does not extend to his descendants.’ 

As well as being a former MEP, Mr Johnson is also an ex-employee of the European Commission with his family living in Brussels for a while in the 1970s.

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

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

But their father has since backtracked on his ‘impassioned’ Remainer stance, with the senior Mr Johnson recently using a newspaper article to laud Brexit as ‘probably a good idea’.

He explained how the Ukraine war had ‘shaken’ his faith in the EU.

Mr Johnson 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 in the Daily Telegraph 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.

In an interview with French radio station RTL in December 2020, towards the end of the Brexit transition period, Mr Johnson explained his reasons for applying for a French passport.

‘It’s not a question of becoming French,’ he said.

‘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.’

He added: ‘I will always be European, that’s for sure. 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.’

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