The health secretary has become the latest of the Boris Johnson’s cabinet to defend the prime minister likening Ukraine’s desire for sovereignty amid its invasion to the Brexit vote.
Health and social care minister Sajid Javid told Sky News this morning that if the public wanted to see what the prime minister thinks about Ukraine, they should “look at the rock solid support he’s providing… his point [comparing to Brexit] was about the importance of self-determination”.
Javid added: “I think it’s spurious to say that he was connecting somehow the UK and Ukraine in that way.
“I think most normal people listening to that wouldn’t have drawn that conclusion.”
It follows chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday telling the broadcaster that the two situations were “clearly not directly analogous” but that “I don’t think the prime minister was saying that they were directly analogous, either”.
In a speech at the Conservative Party’s Spring Conference on Saturday, Johnson said it is the “instinct of the people of this country, like the people of Ukraine, to choose freedom”, with the Brexit vote a “famous recent example”.
“When the British people voted for Brexit in such large, large numbers, I don’t believe it was because they were remotely hostile to foreigners,” he told delegates in Blackpool.
“It’s because they wanted to be free to do things differently and for this country to be able to run itself.”
Conservative peer Lord Barwell condemned Johnson’s statement, saying that “voting in a free and fair referendum isn’t in any way comparable with risking your life to defend your country against invasion”.