Boris Johnson’s dad set for Belfast rally to promote staying in EU

File photo dated 14/5/2016 of Boris Johnson
File photo dated 14/5/2016 of Boris Johnson

Former Conservative MEP, and leading environmentalist, Stanley Johnson, is set to speak at a pro-EU rally at Queen’s University.

Mr Johnson - the father of Boris Johnson who is a leading voice for the Leave Campaign - will speak on May 25 in his role as co-chair of Environmentalists for Europe, who are organising the event in partnership with Friends of the Earth.

Also speaking on May 25 will be the Green Party’s Tanya Jones and a spokesperson from the SDLP.

Mr Johnson has been involved in promoting environmental regulation at the European level since the early 1970s, first as head of the European Commission’s Prevention of Pollution Division, and later as vice-chairman of the European Parliament’s Environmental Committee.

Writing recently in the London Evening Standard, Mr Johnson said: “As members of the EU we can push for reforms that protect nature across borders. “Leaving puts that at risk. It threatens air and water quality, risks removing safeguards for natural habitats, affects our ability to reduce our carbon footprint and much more.

“I respect those who, like my eldest son, Boris, have a different perspective. Like Boris, I believe the EU needs major surgery. The Prime Minister tried his best with the renegotiation but there is a long way to go. But unlike Brexiteers, I believe it is best to fight from within. That’s why I will vote Remain.”

Friends of the Earth’s Northern Ireland Director, James Orr – who will be chairing the event – said: “Without EU regulations I shudder to think how much worse Northern Ireland’s environment would be now. It has often been the only line of defence to help protect nature, human health and the well-being of communities.

“Cleaner beaches and drinking water, less air pollution, safer products and protected wildlife are all things we’ve gained from being part of the European Union (EU).

“Despite many concerns we have in relation to EU policy, exiting the EU would leave our environment in even worse shape. We need to overhaul the EU so that it focuses on improving people’s well-being and acts as a global champion for the shared environment we all depend upon.”