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Favorite for British PM Dealt a Big Blow

Boris Johnson to face misconduct claims in court
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2019 9:20 AM CDT
Boris Johnson is seen in London on March 19, 2019.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

(Newser) – The man favorited to become Britain's next prime minister must appear in court to face misconduct claims. A judge on Wednesday ordered leading Brexit supporter Boris Johnson to testify over his claim that Britain would pull in an extra £350 million ($443 million) per week after leaving the European Union, reports Reuters. The claim was made ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum—it was even printed on the side of a Leave campaign bus—and repeated during the UK's 2017 general election, though critics say it was deliberately misleading. "It is a clear misuse of official statistics," the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority wrote in a letter to Johnson in 2017. The Office for National Statistics had by then described Britain's weekly EU contribution as about £190 million ($240 million) as of 2016.

Lawyers for Johnson, who resigned as foreign secretary over Theresa May's divorce deal, say the case only aims to undermine the Brexit referendum results and create "as much public fanfare" as possible, per the BBC. The reason should be clear. Johnson "is well ahead of the other 10 declared candidates in the contest to replace May as leader of [the] Conservative Party and prime minister," per Reuters. Johnson will now face a preliminary hearing at the magistrate's court before a decision is made on whether to send the case to trial, per CNN, which reports the case was lodged by a crowdfunded private prosecutor. His application says Johnson knew he was lying, as he at times used "accurate figures and showed a clear understanding of how to quantify UK spending in respect of the EU." (Read more Boris Johnson stories.)

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