Boris Johnson's pro-Brexit father gains French citizenship

Stanley Johnson’s ties to France come from his mother and he speaks the language fluently

Stanley Johnson, father of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is a Conservative who once worked for the European Commission in Brussels. Reuters
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pro-Brexit father has been granted French citizenship after making an application last year, France's Ministry of Justice said on Thursday.

The 81-year-old filed his citizenship application at the French consulate in London in November last year, with a six-month deadline for the French Ministry of Justice to object elapsing on Wednesday, a source from the ministry told AFP.

Stanley Johnson is a Conservative who once worked for the European Commission in Brussels.

At first, he opposed Brexit but then changed his stance following 2016's narrow referendum vote that was championed by his son.

Mr Johnson has ties to France through his French mother and speaks the language fluently.

“Based on the facts in his application, and without a refusal by the justice minister, Mr Stanley Johnson acquired French nationality on May 18 2022,” the ministry said.

“This decision concerns only Mr Stanley Johnson and does not extend to his descendants.”

Mr Johnson told RTL radio in French in a December 2020 interview: “I'll always be European, that's for sure.”

He had come under fire at home for his plans, announced at the same time most Britons were losing the right to travel freely across the European Union as a post-Brexit “transition period” ended.

“It's not a question of becoming French. If I understand correctly, I am French! My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandfather,” Mr Johnson said.

“For me it's a question of obtaining what I already have and I am very happy about that.”

Stanley Johnson was granted French citizenship on May 18, 2022, the French Justice Ministry. AFP

French law normally prevents the 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.

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

Mr Johnson has become a public figure in Britain following his son's political rise, appearing on a celebrity reality TV show in 2017 and make other regular media appearances.

His ex-wife, Charlotte Fawcett — the younger Mr Johnson's mother — told a biographer recently that Mr Johnson had beaten her many times, breaking her nose on one occasion.

Last year, two women, a Conservative MP and a journalist, accused him of groping or touching them inappropriately.

Updated: May 19, 2022, 10:40 PM