Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he “totally agrees” that Brexit and the Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion are not the same.
The Prime Minister has come under criticism for comments where he appeared to compare the UK voting to leave the EU, and the Ukrainian fight against Russia.
Speaking at the Conservative Party spring forum at the weekend, he said it was the “instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom”, with the Brexit vote a “famous recent example”.
But speaking to BBC’s Newsnight programme on Thursday, he said: “That was not an analogy that I was making. I’m afraid that was wildly misconstrued.
“I said, I think in the same passage, that there’s been nothing like what we’re seeing in Ukraine since 1945 and it is a horror, and it can’t be compared to anything since 1945.”
In addition, the Prime Minister said he “of course” welcomes tough questions over his involvement in the partygate saga as he said such probing would not be allowed in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Johnson was asked what it meant that his position had been saved by the invasion.
He said: “I think what it says is that we’re very lucky to live in a country where journalists can quite properly go hard on this sort of question, this sort of issue, because I can tell you, Nick, that is not what happens in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and it’s certainly something that we want to make sure continues to happen in Ukraine.”
Asked if he would therefore welcome tough questions about partygate, where numerous parties were allegedly held across Whitehall during Covid restrictions, the PM laughed and then said: “Yes, of course. That is what it’s all about. And it’s about…and I mean it quite seriously.”
He added: “I think what people understand is that if Vladimir Putin lived in a democracy, and if Vladimir Putin had Newsnight on his case, and people asking him really penetrating questions about what he really thought he was doing in in Ukraine and whether he really understood what kind of people the Ukrainians were, and if he’d really thought it through, I don’t think he would have made the catastrophic mistake that he’s made.
“And in a way, what he has done – this appalling invasion – is paradoxically an advertisement for the importance of the very system that he’s trying to destroy in Ukraine. That’s what we’re trying to protect.”