PM’s father to be invited to official welcoming ceremony under French flag with national anthem playing
The 81-year-old former member of the European parliament, who has family ties to the country, told The Independent it was a “very nice gesture” of the authorities in France.
On Friday, a source at the justice ministry in Paris confirmed that the application of the prime minister’s father had been successful, and that Mr Johnson would be invited to an official ceremony to celebrate.
This would see him welcomed as a bona fide French citizen beneath the country’s flag, with “La Marseillaise”, the French national anthem, playing.
Another source told AFP: “Based on the facts in his application, and without a refusal by the justice minister, Mr Stanley Johnson acquired French nationality on 18 May, 2022.”
They added: “The decision concerns only Mr Stanley Johnson and does not extend to his descendants.”
The development also means that Mr Johnson, who campaigned on behalf of Remain in 2016 before suggesting last month that Brexit was “probably a good idea”, retains all the rights of EU citizenship that British subjects lost after the end of the transition period.
Speaking to The Independent, Mr Johnson said he was still waiting to hear from the authorities in France, but added: “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 went on: “It means a lot — of course it doesn’t mean I’m renouncing my British citizenship.
“It’s a very nice gesture. From my point of view I think it’s tremendously important to build these bridges — whether I’m a bridge is another matter — with the EU and of course France”.
A grinning Mr Johnson also spoke fluently in the language of Molière when he appeared on BFM – the country’s largest TV news outlet – on Friday morning.
“I’m very happy,” he said. “It means a lot. My mother was born in Paris. For me it’s something very precious, it’s a part of my identity.’
As presenter Bruce Toussaint congratulated him, Mr Johnson read the statement provided to AFP news agency, saying he had “acquired French nationality on 18 May, 2022”.
Mr Johnson said he had technically “always been French” through his mother, Irene Williams, despite being born in Penzance, Cornwell. “My mother was born in France, her mother was completely French as was her grandmother,” he said.
“Europe is more than the single market, it’s more than the European Union. I am European in that sense.”
Mr Johnson, a former member of the European Parliament, confirmed that he filled out his application at the French consulate in London last November.
As well as being a former MEP, he is also an ex-employee of the European Commission, and lived with his family living in Brussels in the 1970s.
He supported Remain prior to the 2016 EU referendum – putting him at odds with his son Boris Johnson’s position as the figurehead for the Vote Leave campaign.
However, weeks into Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, the former MEP wrote in The Daily Telegraph in April: “I write this as a once impassioned Remainer, but I have to admit that my faith in the ‘European project has been shaken.
“I said as much in a recent radio interview, which caused quite a stir, but I stand by my view that Ukraine has shown that Brexit was probably a good idea.”
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 Mr Johnson 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.