The former London mayor and leading Brexit campaigner said the reaction to his comment was driven by media “hysteria”.
“Over the last few thousand years there have all sorts of attempts in Europe to recreate the dream of the Roman Empire,” he said today.
“Very often that has been done by force. The EU is different. It’s trying to do it in a more bureaucratic way.
“The problem is there isn’t a single charismatic authority that anybody feels any loyalty to. It’s completely anti-democratic.”
He added: “”There is very good argument against the lack of democracy in the EU. Over the last 2,00 years people have made repeated attempts to unify Europe by force. The EU is a very different project but it is profoundly anti-democratic.”
On Sunday, Johnson was widely criticised for using an interview with The Daily Telegraph to argue European history had been dominated by doomed attempts to unify the continent under a single government to recreate the “golden age” of the Romans.
“Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods,” he said
Labour’s shadow chancellor Hillary Benn, who is campaigning in favour of EU membership, said Johnson had lost his “moral compass” with his Hitler comment.
“To try and compare Hitler and the Nazis - the millions of people who died in the Second World War, the Holocaust - with the free democracies of Europe coming together to trade and co-operate, and in the process to help to bring peace to the continent of Europe after centuries of war, is frankly deeply offensive,” he said.
Author: Ned Simons