UK 'should not be afraid of leaving Europe' - Boris Johnson

The UK should not be afraid of a future outside Europe, according to Boris Johnson.

The Mayor of London said that the country should not shy away from an “alternative future” in the event that the government was unable to rewrite the terms of the UK’s relationship with the Union.

In a speech at Bloomberg, Mr Johnson said that the EU had fallen into “sclerosis”, and that it is suffering from a “crisis of economic under-performance, and a related collapse of political trust.”

The speech follows a report from Mr Johnson’s advisor Gerard Lyons, which suggested that loosening ties with Europe could lead to a small boost for trade with the rest of the world.

But business leaders have long underscored the importance of the UK’s relationship with the eurozone, which remains the country’s largest trading partner.

David Cameron has already promised an in-out referendum on Europe in 2017. Polling conducted in June by Opinium for the Observer found that 48 per cent of respondents would definitely or probably vote to leave Europe if the terms of the relationship remained unchanged, while 37 per cent indicated that they would definitely or probably vote to stay in.

But, in the event that the terms were renegotiated, 42 per cent say they would vote to stay, while 36 per cent say they would vote to leave.

Meanwhile Boris Johnson has also indicated that he intends to stand for Parliament in 2015, increasing speculation that he could be preparing to mount a challenge for the Conservative leadership.

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