LONDON (AFP) - Former London mayor Boris Johnson claimed the European Union was behaving like German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler by trying to create a superstate, in a Sunday (May 15) newspaper interview.
Johnson is one of the leading figures campaigning for Britain to leave the EU in a June 23 referendum. His controversial comments come six weeks ahead of the vote and with opinion polls suggesting the vote is too close to call.
He said the last 2,000 years of European history had featured repeated efforts to bring the continent together under a single government, emulating the Roman empire.
"Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods," Johnson told The Sunday Telegraph.
"But fundamentally what is lacking is the eternal problem, which is that there is no underlying loyalty to the idea of Europe.
"There is no single authority that anybody respects or understands. That is causing this massive democratic void."
Johnson is a leading member of the ruling Conservative party of Prime Minister David Cameron, who is leading the campaign to keep Britain in the EU.
The "Leave" campaign argues that a Britain outside the EU will be stronger, seeing Brussels institutions as bloated and believing that the Houses of Parliament in London should have absolute sovereignty.
The "Remain" and "Leave" camps are currently tied at 50 per cent each, according to the What UK Thinks website's average of the last six opinion polls.
A separate poll for Sunday's newspapers suggested that Johnson is more trusted than Cameron by the public to tell the truth about Europe.
While 45 per cent said they trusted Johnson more than Cameron, only 21 per cent said they trusted the prime minister more than his old rival Johnson, a ComRes poll for the Sunday Mirror and Independent found.