On Wednesday night it was reported the Foreign Secretary told at least four EU ambassadors that unrestricted immigration across the European Union “corresponds to his own beliefs” and that the UK had benefited from European migrants.
One EU ambassador told Sky News: “Boris Johnson told us he was personally in favour of it, but he said that Britain had been more affected by freedom movement of people than other EU member states.”
But in November last year Mr Johnson, who was the star player for the Leave campaign in the referendum, said he did not believe freedom of movement was working for the Continent.
“I want to stress this. I think Turkey should be part of the single market.
“There should be free trade, there should be free movement of capital. There should be rights of companies to establish.
“But when it comes to freedom of movement of the kind we currently have with the rest of the EU that is plainly not going to work with Turkey.”
Speaking to LBC he said: “And indeed, I don”t think it”s currently working with the rest of the EU.
“And this is the crucial point. This year we had a 330,000 balance of migration into this country, which was hundreds of thousands more than were officially predicted or indeed promised.
“That is entirely because of the open border system. And my own view is we can”t endlessly continue with that arrangement.”
Following Sky News” revelations about Mr Johnson’s comments, Nick Clegg launched a scathing attack on the Foreign Secretary.
He said: “It just suggests that Boris Johnson, one of the senior members of this Government, is just treating voters like fools.
“Boris Johnson was the figurehead of the Brexit campaign, he was the principle spokesman of their key message which was that they would bring an end to freedom of movement, and if it now emerges that he never believed it all along I think it will leave a lot of people who voted for him and for Brexit extremely angry indeed.”
Mr Clegg, the Lib Dems’ spokesman on the EU, added: “Of course we’re used to the fact that Boris Johnson said one thing before the 23 June and another thing after.
“But what sets this apart is this was the fundamental, the cornerstone, the principle proposition put to the British people by him more than almost anyone else.
“The Brexit campaign was very vague and opaque…but the one thing they were very, very clear about to a man and a woman was that we would end freedom of movement by leaving the European Union.
“This was such an axiomatic thing that was constantly told to us by Boris Johnson and now it appears he never believed in it all along.”
In response to the furore caused by Mr Johnson’s comments the Foreign Office was forced to issue a statement clarifying his views.
“Boris said what he has said many times before. He is pro-immigration but wants to take back control to limit numbers,” a spokesman said.
“He did not say he supported freedom of movement and challenges anyone to show proof that he ever said that.”