Former London Mayor Likens European Union to Hitler

Former London Mayor Likens European Union to HitlerFormer London Mayor Likens European Union to Hitler

Boris Johnson says the problem is a lack of underlying respect for European-wide governance. Critics slammed his "hysterical" comments, but polls show the public is evenly divided.

The former London mayor has likened the European Union to past dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Napoleon in trying to create a European super-state.

Johnson's controversial comments come less than six weeks before the June 23 referendum that will determine Britain's future within the EU, AFP reported.

"Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically," Johnson told British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph.

"The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods," he said.

"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 slammed by advocates of a unified Europe, who want Britain to stay in the EU.

The Britain Stronger In Europe campaign was quick to react, with former cabinet minister Yvette Cooper of the Labor Party accusing Johnson of playing a "nasty, nasty game," Press Association reported.

Johnson, a member of Britain's Conservative Party, and a frontrunner to succeed Prime Minister David Cameron, has become a leading voice of the "Leave" camp despite the fact—or perhaps, because of it—the government is advocating a "Remain" vote. The latest polls show the public evenly divided. According to the What UK Thinks website, the combined average of six recent polls show the electorate is at a 50-50 split.