London Mayor Boris Johnson to campaign for British exit from EU

Updated: 00:00 GMT, Jan 1, 1970 | Published: 04:34 GMT, Feb 22, 2016 |

London Mayor Boris Johnson said on Sunday (Sunday 21) he backed leaving the European Union, dealing a blow to Prime Minister David Cameron by giving the “out” campaign a de facto leader who is one of the most charismatic politicians in British politics.

43 years after Britain joined the EU’s predecessor, Cameron announced a June 23 referendum on Saturday (February 20) after clinching a deal from 27 other leaders to give Britain what he said was a special status.

But Boris, one of Britain’s most high-profile politicians, remained silent on Cameron’s deal for nearly two days before making his dramatic announcement on the steps of his north London home.

“I will be advocating Vote Leave … because I want a better deal for the people of this country to save them money and to take back control,” Johnson told a crowd of reporters.

The move deepened a divide in Cameron’s ruling Conservative Party and betting odds against a British exit shortened to 2/1 (a 33 percent chance) from 12/5 (29 percent).

Johnson, a political showman whose buffoonish and eccentric exterior masks fierce ambition to succeed Cameron, dismissed questions about whether the announcement was a bid for the future leadership of the Conservative Party.