British PM Boris Johnson’s pro-Brexit father Stanley becomes French
- The elder Johnson drew flak for his citizenship bid, with most Britons losing the right to travel freely across the EU as a result of the UK exiting the bloc
- Stanley Johnson’s ties to France are through his French mother, and he speaks the language fluently
The Brexit-supporting father of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has acquired French citizenship after making an application last year, a French justice ministry source told Agence France-Presse on Thursday.
A Conservative who once worked for the European Commission in Brussels, Stanley Johnson opposed Brexit at first but swung behind the EU departure project following 2016’s narrow referendum vote that was championed by his son.
The elder Johnson’s ties to France are through his French mother, and he speaks the language fluently.
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 justice ministry to object elapsing on Wednesday.
“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,” it added.
“I’ll always be European, that’s for sure,” Stanley Johnson told RTL radio in French in a December 2020 interview.
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,” Stanley said.
“For me it’s a question of obtaining what I already have and I am very happy about that,” he added.
French law normally prevents 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 Stanley invoked in his application.
Around 3,100 British people acquired French nationality in 2020, according to the latest figures available from EU statistics agency Eurostat, making France the second most popular choice for acquiring European citizenship, after Germany.
Stanley Johnson has become a public figure in Britain following his son’s political rise, appearing on a celebrity reality television show in 2017 and appearing regularly in the media.
His ex-wife Charlotte Fawcett – Boris’s mother – told a biographer recently that Stanley 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.