Boris Johnson's no-deal claim in Telegraph column inaccurate, newspaper regulator rules 6 months ago

Boris Johnson's no-deal claim in Telegraph column inaccurate, newspaper regulator rules

Lies? About Brexit? No!

Boris Johnson made inaccurate claims about the level of popular support for no-deal in his Daily Telegraph column, the regulator for newspapers and magazines has found.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation upheld a complaint about the accuracy of Johnson's column earlier this year.

In it, the former foreign secretary asserted: "Of all the options suggested by pollsters – staying in the EU, coming out on Theresa May’ terms, or coming out on World Trade terms – it is the last, the so-called no-deal option, that is gaining in popularity.

"In spite of – or perhaps because of – everything they have been told, it is this future that is by some margin preferred by the British public."

IPSO found Johnson to have breached Clause 1 of the Editors’ Code of the Practice - accuracy.

The watchdog said: "The publication had not provided any data which supported the author's claim either that a no-deal Brexit was the option preferred 'by some margin' over the three options listed, or that these represented '…all of the options suggested by pollsters.'

"Instead it had construed the polls as signalling support for a no deal, when in fact, this was the result of the publication either amalgamating several findings together, or interpreting an option beyond what was set out by the poll as being a finding in support of a no deal Brexit.

"The reference to the polling was not material to the author’s polemical argument. However, it was a significant inaccuracy, because it misrepresented polling information."

IPSO further criticised the paper for not offering a correction.

Boris Johnson was found by IPSO to have made inaccurate claims in his column for the Daily Telegraph (Credit: Christopher Furlong) Boris Johnson was found by IPSO to have made inaccurate claims in his column for the Daily Telegraph (Credit: Christopher Furlong)

In his column from January Johnson argued that fears about no deal have been exaggerated by Remain supporters. His article was featured on the paper's front page that day and also posted on its website's premium section, behind a paywall.

The Telegraph said readers of the opinion piece would understand the statement was "not invoking specific polling" and that Johnson was "entitled to make sweeping generalisations based on his opinions and that the complainant had misconstrued the purpose of the article – it was clearly comically polemical, and could not be reasonably read as a serious, empirical, in-depth analysis of hard factual matters."

Johnson returned to his spot at the Telegraph after two years as foreign secretary. He resigned from government over Theresa May's "surrendering" Brexit deal.

He now supports the deal, after the prime minister said she would resign from leadership if her withdrawal agreement passed the Commons and the UK moved onto phase two of its departure negotiations.