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The Johnsons: a family divided over Brexit

During his Conservative Party conference speech, the Prime Minister said his mother voted to leave the European Union.

Stanley Johnson, Rachel Johnson and Jo Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Stanley Johnson, Rachel Johnson and Jo Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By Sophie Morris, PA Political Staff

The Johnson family has famously been divided by Brexit.

The Prime Minister’s brother Jo quit his ministerial post in protest at the direction his brother’s Government was taking and his sister Rachel, a prominent Remain supporter, has publicly slammed Mr Johnson’s behaviour in the House of Commons.

And in the latest family disclosure on Brexit, the Prime Minister has revealed that his mother voted to leave in the European Union referendum.

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, Mr Johnson told the audience that his mother, Charlotte Johnson Wahl, supported the Leave campaign in 2016.

Well I want you to know, conference, that I have kept my ace up my sleeve - my mother voted Leave Boris Johnson

He said: “I am going to quote that supreme authority in my family, my mother.

“And I know there are some keen students of the alleged divisions in my family on matters of the EU.

“Well I want you to know, conference, that I have kept my ace up my sleeve – my mother voted Leave.”

Mr Johnson’s brother Jo quit his ministerial post last month in protest at the Government’s actions.

He said there had been an “unresolvable tension” between “family loyalty and the national interest”.

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Rachel Johnson, sister of Boris Johnson, on board a boat taking part in a pro-EU counter demonstration (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Johnson’s sister Rachel, a prominent Remain supporter, has also publicly criticised his behaviour.

Ms Johnson said it was “not helpful” to blame Parliament for his Brexit difficulties, and claiming that he used the Commons despatch box as a “bully pulpit”.

She continued to describe his attack on Parliament as a “strongman gambit” designed to “whip up” support, and referred to him as “a different person in the Commons”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s World At One, she said: “I think that what we are seeing is an executive that is so keen to deliver Brexit in any shape or form, to get the country out of the EU, to deliver up on that promised land, that they will do anything to justify that end.”

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Jo Johnson in Downing Street (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Asked what could be behind the strategy, she said: “It could be (senior aide) Dominic Cummings advising the Prime Minister to be extremely aggressive and to face down opposition from all sides of the establishment in order to secure his position as the tribune of the people.

“It could be coming from my brother himself, he obviously thoroughly enjoys being Prime Minister.

“It also could be from, who knows, people who have invested billions in shorting the pound or shorting the country in the expectation of a no-deal Brexit. We don’t know.”

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Carrie Symonds and Stanley Johnson, the partner and father of Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Prime Minister’s sister has also previously revealed that the Johnson family avoid Brexit chat at the dinner table.

In a tweet, Ms Johnson said: “The family avoids the topic of Brexit, especially at meals, as we don’t want to gang up on the PM.”

PA

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