Stanley Johnson 'absolutely delighted' as his French citizenship is approved

20 May 2022, 14:16

Boris Johnson's father Stanley Johnson has become a French citizen
Boris Johnson's father Stanley Johnson has become a French citizen . Picture: Alamy

By Liam Gould

Boris Johnson's father Stanley Johnson has become a French citizen after having his application approved by officials.

The 81-year-old said he was "absolutely delighted" to have his application for French citizenship accepted after applying for a passport in 2020.

The justice ministry in Paris confirmed the application made at the end of 2020 "had been successful", and the former-Member of the European Parliament (MEP) would be invited to an official ceremony.

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Johnson said: “I’m absolutely delighted to hear this.

“If it’s true, I’m absolutely delighted we seem to have made some progress on that I shall very much look forward to visiting the French consulate in London.”

He added: “It means a lot — of course it doesn’t mean I’m renouncing my British citizenship."

Stanley Johnson has six children: Boris, Rachel, Leo, Julia, Jo, and Maximilian.

He had campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union during the 2016 referendum, while his son Boris led the leave campaign. Since the referendum, he has expressed his support for Brexit.

Johnson Snr confirmed he'd applied for a French passport as Britain’s Brexit transition period was ending on 31 December 2020.

At the time, he said: “It’s not a question of becoming French. If I understood correctly, I am French. My mother was born in France, her mother was entirely French, and her grandfather too. So for me it’s a matter of claiming what I already have.

“I will always be European, that’s for sure. You can’t tell the English ‘you’re not European’.

"Europe is more than the single market, it’s more than the European Union. That said, to have a link like that with the EU is important.”

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Johnson has ties to France through his mother, Irene Williams who was born in Versailles. Johnson was born in Cornwall and has his main home in the UK, but speaks fluent French.

Johnson became one of the first UK civil servants to work in Brussels after Britain joined the EU – then the European Economic Community – in 1973.

He previously served as a Conservative MEP over forty years ago for Wight and Hampshire East from 1979 to 1984.

France's justice ministry said in a statement: "Based on the facts in his application, and without a refusal by the justice minister, Mr Stanley Johnson acquired French nationality on 18th May, 2022.

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

There had been a six-month period in which the justice ministry could object to the application, but that has since passed.

French law usually stops the offspring of citizens successfully claiming nationality if they have been abroad for over 50 years without making use of their rights. This is known in France as loss of nationality through désuétude, or disuse.

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Stanley Johnson attended he UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow last year. Picture: Alamy

But, a clause does mean a person can be considered if they prove "concrete ties of a cultural, professional, economic or family nature."

Around 3,100 British people gained French nationality in 2020, according to Eurostat. This made France the second most popular choice for acquiring European citizenship, with Germany topping the list.

Stanley Johnson had previously campaigned for Remain in the 2016 EU referendum, putting him at odds with his son Boris Johnson who was London Mayor at the time.

But, since the referendum, Johnson Snr has since backed his son's Brexit plans.

He previously told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the war in Ukraine had shaken his belief in the EU and demonstrates that Brexit was "probably a good idea".

Mr Johnson told Nick Europe needed to "pull its socks up" and said the fact the UK had severed ties with the bloc meant Boris Johnson could "lead from the front".

"I say to myself, in this particular case, Brexit was probably a good idea, because Boris has been able to lead from the front here."