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Boris Johnson can’t stop lying about £350m for NHS

by Denis MacShane | 22.05.2017

What is it with Boris Johnson and the truth? The Foreign Secretary has played fast and loose with the facts on Europe in his three decades in journalism and politics.

On Sunday’s Robert Peston programme he was at it again.

When asked via a viewer’s tweet why Vote Leave’s referendum promise of £350 million a week for the NHS wasn’t included in the Conservative Party manifesto, he said: “It is.”

He added that Theresa May had stated this at the 84 page document’s launch. An incredulous Peston responded: “She didn’t. I was there!”

There is of course no such pledge.

We can debate where to place Johnson in the modish post-truth or fake-news world but it is clear that he has scant regard for facts, truth or honesty when selling his line on Europe. A weak BBC last June allowed the lie to be spread that a Brexit vote meant £350 million a week would become available to the NHS.

For voters on pension age who depend more on the NHS than younger voters, the promise of Johnson and co that there would be £350 million a week suddenly available for health care swayed votes. Who, after all, wouldn’t want such a huge weekly sum to be flow into the NHS?

Johnson started his post-Oxford journalistic career on The Times for Rupert Murdoch by falsifying quotes from an Oxford professor who trusted Johnson. The academic faced ridicule after Johnson put words into his mouth.

On arriving in Brussels as a young reporter for the Daily Telegraph, Johnson’s first story was that the European Commission’s Berlaymont building was going to be blown up. Untrue. It was to be evacuated in order to be stripped of asbestos and is still functioning.

Brussels colleagues of Johnson soon became wary of his work. Rory Watson, the respected Press Association correspondent said Johnson “made up stories”.

The BBC’s James Landale, also a Brussels reporter at the same time as Johnson went into verse about today’s Foreign Secretary:

“Boris told such dreadful lies

It made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes.”

Even a fellow right-winger in journalism with Johnson like Conrad Black has said the Foreign Secretary is “ineffably duplicitous”.

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Over three decades of telling untruths about Europe, Johnson has managed to turn his contempt for facts and truth into a giant joke, a comic act that is meant to excuse his indifference to truthful facts. He has achieved little if anything as Foreign Secretary, and in some foreign ministries across Europe he is known simply as the “British clown”.

With his extraordinary statement that the Brexit Vote Leave promise of £350 million is now enshrined in the Tory election manifesto, he has gone well beyond being economical with the truth. Again he told millions of voters something that, uncomfortable as the word may be, is a lie.

Edited by Alex Spillius

3 Responses to “Boris Johnson can’t stop lying about £350m for NHS”

  • Johnson has a long history of thorough dishonesty. I believe he was once dismissed from his job for telling barefaced lies. This man should not be allowed anywhere near any position of responsibility.

  • Boris and going back a year Govie have both breached their Ministerial Code, The Nolan Principles, by deliberately misleading the public. Neither is fit for Ministerial Office and May’s inaction calls her suitability as Prime Minister into question. The only way a credible Prime Minister can deal with a persistent liar is to sack him.

  • Ahhhh yes. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the joke that has long outlived the laughter. Surely leave voters cannot continue to deny the £350m a week to the NHS figure was a promise based on a lie? Esp. as Johnson continues to peddle said lie nearly a year after he first uttered it.