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Boris's father says EU will protect the environment in Northern Ireland

By Margaret Canning

Environmentalist Stanley Johnson - father of pro-Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson -has said that a vote to remain in the EU is best for the environment in Northern Ireland.

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Mr Johnson visited Belfast yesterday as a guest of Friends of the Earth, and took part in a pro-EU rally at Queen's University.

He is co-chair of Environmentalists for Europe, which organised the event with Friends of the Earth.

The former MEP and European Commmission employee told the Belfast Telegraph afterwards: "It became really clear to me at the meeting that there's a really strong feeling among people that Northern Ireland's landscape and nature really does need the extra layer of protection that being a member of the EU provides."

Mr Johnson has worked in environmental regulation in Europe since the 1970s.

He was head of the European Commission's Prevention of Pollution Division, and later vice-chairman of the European Parliament's Environmental Committee.

He was later Conservative MEP for Wight and Hampshire East from 1979 to 1984.

And he said being on opposite sides of the EU debate from his son, a former Lord Mayor of London, was not creating a strain in the family.

He said he admired Boris Johnson and his Tory Party colleague Michael Gove for their leadership of the pro-Brexit campaign.

"I feel that the nation owes Boris and Michael Gove a level of gratitude because they really have added a level of energy and vigour into this debate."

Mr Johnson snr said the Brexit campaign had raised important issues around sovereignty but added: "My view is that if you've been married for 40 years, you don't just go and get a divorce from your wife.

"You stay and try to make it work. I think we will get a much better result all round if we stay in," he added.

Belfast Telegraph