Boris Johnson's Brexit funding claims and why they caused Tory infighting

by Garry Watts September 19, 2017, 0:34
Boris Johnson's Brexit funding claims and why they caused Tory infighting

Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC that Mr. Boris Johnson is "backseat driving" in the Brexit process, suggesting that his intervention was "unhelpful".

David Norgrove, of the UK Statistics Authority, said he was "surprised and disappointed" that Johnson was still quoting a figure that confused gross and net contributions.

The article triggered anger among many MPs and there have been calls for his resignation.

The timing of Johnson's article - published a day after a bomb injured 30 people on a train in London - also drew criticism from some colleagues.

"And she pushed back at Johnson's suggestion that the money should go to the National Health Service, a referendum-year pledge from Brexit supporters that Johnson revived".

The Canada-EU deal, which eliminates 98% of Canadian import duties is a "significant boon" for British exporters, said No 10, as it announced plans for a new joint working group to work on the bilateral deal post Brexit.

The idea that the United Kingdom would have 350 million pounds per week (about $475 million) available for social spending after Brexit is "misuse of official statistics", Norgrove said Sunday in a letter to Johnson.

But in a bid to achieve maximum publicity, the foreign secretary later got around the paywall by posting the article on his Facebook page.

However, it is unclear what will happen regarding such trade deals during a "transition period" expected to last up to three years after the official Brexit date in March 2019.

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One of the most controversial topics during the European Union referendum was the claim used by the Leave campaign that £350m could be spent funding the NHS instead of sending it to Europe.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May slapped down Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for his unauthorized intervention in the Brexit debate, but fell short of firing him.

However, when asked by Business Insider whether the prime minister was happy with Johnson's continued use of the figure, her spokeswoman replied: "I'm not getting into that", before asking journalists to look up the correct figure themselves.

But his 4,000-word essay also drew praise from eurosceptic members of the ruling Conservative party for his demand for a clean break with the European Union, in particular on the fraught issue of financial payments.

When asked about Mr Johnson's article, Mrs May said: "Boris is Boris".

It is not the first time the £350 million figure has been disputed by the Authority.

Sir Craig Oliver, former director of communications at Downing Street for David Cameron, said even if the genuine intention was to support the Prime Minister, it was obvious it would be seen in Westminster as a "direct challenge".

"To give you an example: when I was Mayor of London I thought it would be a good idea if we persuaded the Commission to spend £8m on the Emirates cable auto". He tweeted that he was "looking forward to" May's Florence speech, adding: "All behind Theresa for a glorious Brexit".


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