LONDON — Boris Johnson has gone public on the newt-shaped threat to his swimming pool.
The former British prime minister is promising to do “whatever it takes” after the likely presence of the protected creatures at his new home halted plans for a pool.
British protection laws force developers to thoroughly check for newts before starting construction.
The Telegraph reported this week that the proposed 11 meter-by-4 meter pool at Johnson’s £3.8 million, nine-bedroom house in Oxfordshire has raised the concern of local council officials, who want the ex-Tory leader to carry out a survey.
In his first public comments on the saga, contained in his weekly column for the Daily Mail newspaper, Johnson made a series of bold promises to the newts.
“If it turns out that our garden is so honoured and so fortunate as to be the home of some newts — great crested, palmate, whatever — I want you to know that I will do whatever it takes to protect them,” he said.
“If we have to build little newt motels, to house them in their trips past the swimming pool, then we will,” he promised. “If we have to create whole newt-friendly bunds to stop them falling in, we will. We will excavate new ponds in which they can breed. We will make a Newtopia!”
The comments mark an about-turn from Johnson, who once used a speech as U.K. prime minister to warn that laws protecting great crested newts were hurting Britain’s post-pandemic recovery by slowing new developments.
“Newt-counting delays are a massive drag on the prosperity of this country,” he said in a 2020 speech.