Boris Johnson claims the European Union (EU) is behaving like Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler
Former London mayor Boris Johnson has claimed the European Union (EU) is behaving like Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler by trying to create a superstate.
Johnson is one of the leading figures campaigning for Britain to leave the EU ahead of the referendum on 23 June. His controversial comments come six weeks ahead of the vote, which opinion polls are suggesting is too close to call.
While he acknowledged the EU was using "different methods" to the Nazis, his controversial comparison to the Third Reich drew a furious response from Remain campaigners.
Mr Johnson - seen as the de facto leader of the Leave campaign - said the past 2,000 years of European history had been dominated by doomed attempts to unify the continent under a single government to recreate the "golden age" of the Romans.
"Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically. The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods," he said in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph.
"But fundamentally what is lacking is the eternal problem, which is that there is no underlying loyalty to the idea of Europe.
"There is no single authority that anybody respects or understands. That is causing this massive democratic void."
His comments were condemned by the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign, with Labour former cabinet minister Yvette Cooper accusing him of playing a "nasty, nasty game".
"The more he flails around with this kind of hysterical claim, the more he exposes his shameful lack of judgement, his willingness to play the most divisive cynical politics, and the emptiness of his arguments," she said.
The row erupted as UKip leader Nigel Farage backed Mr Johnson to succeed David Cameron if there is a vote to leave the EU in the referendum on 23 June.
Mr Farage described himself as a "Boris fan" and compared him to former US president Ronald Reagan.