Private prosecution of Boris Johnson over £350 million claim quashed by the High Court : Brexit News for Saturday 8 June

Private prosecution of Boris Johnson over £350 million claim quashed by the High Court : Brexit News for Saturday 8 June
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Private prosecution of Boris Johnson over £350 million referendum claim quashed by the High Court…

The High Court has thrown out an attempt to prosecute Boris Johnson over claims he lied during the 2016 referendum campaign by saying the UK gave the EU £350m a week. The Tory leadership hopeful challenged a summons to attend court on three claims of misconduct in public office. His lawyers said he denied acting improperly or dishonestly. Marcus Ball, the campaigner who brought the private prosecution, said the matter was “not over”. He crowdfunded more than £300,000 to bring the case. Mr Johnson, a former Foreign Secretary, was handed a summons to attend Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 29 May. But at a High Court hearing in London, Lady Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Supperstone overturned this decision. Addressing Mr Johnson’s barrister, Adrian Darbishire QC, Lady Justice Rafferty said: “We are persuaded, Mr Darbishire, so you succeed, and the relief that we grant is the quashing of the summonses.” – BBC News

  • Boris Johnson has misconduct allegations quashed in High Court – Telegraph (£)

…as some Tory figures speculate about a Johnson coronation if he wins MPs’ vote – to ‘get cracking’ on Brexit

Tory grandees are pushing for Boris Johnson to be crowned PM without a vote by party members – so he can ‘get cracking’ on Brexit. Sources claim that if the Tory frontrunner comes out on top in voting by MPs he should be put in No.10 straightaway. Under the contest’s current rules, MPs will pick a final two by the end of June. The Tory membership then elects the winner by July 22. But as James Forsyth reveals in his column, there is growing concern that if the party waits that long, it could cause yet another critical Brexit delay. One of those behind the early coronation plan says: “If we wait, you’ll have the PM hitting up Europe in the first week of August when they are on the beach.” They add that the former Foreign Secretary is already way ahead in polls of the Tory membership. But on Friday night rival campaigns warned against any “stitch-up”. – The Sun

CBI chief who spread Brexit ‘Project Fear’ made a Dame in the Queen’s birthday honours

A leading business lobbyist accused of being one of the architects of “Project Fear” during the EU referendum has been awarded a Damehood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the chief executive of the CBI, has been given the honour in recognition of her services to business. She is described by the Government as an “outstanding advocate of British businesses”. During the referendum campaign, she was one of the most high-profile figures on the Remain side of the debate, warning that Brexit could cost up to a 1million jobs and cause long term damage to the economy. Priti Patel, a Eurosceptic Tory MP, said: “It’s totally inappropriate. This is a reward for the regressive campaign that the CBI has conducted against our country and the result of the referendum. The British public will be appalled to see that the doom-mongers of Brexit are receiving honours for their role in the Brexit betrayal. This is a stain on our democracy and must end.” – Telegraph (£)

Nigel Farage delivers letter to Downing Street setting out his Brexit demands

Nigel Farage has arrived at No10 to deliver his Brexit demands to Theresa May on her last day in office as leader. The Brexit Party boss – despite losing the Peterborough by-election last night – said his party was serious about delivering our EU exit and demanded to help. The letter, which has also been sent to the leadership candidates too, lays out what he wants to do to get Brexit done. It said they campaigned on three simple messages on the election, which they should be allowed to carry out: “Restore trust in democracy, A WTO Brexit, Some of our elected MEPS to play a significant role in the negotiating team from here.” “We should firstly review the state of the No Deal preparations, and help advance them as required, to give confidence to the nation that we will be fully ready,” he demanded. – The Sun

Jeremy Corbyn shrugs off referendum calls after by-election win…

Jeremy Corbyn has indicated he will not bow to party pressure and move immediately towards demanding a second referendum, after Labour narrowly beat the fledgling Brexit party in the Peterborough byelection. Corbyn – arriving in the Cambridgeshire city after the party’s candidate Lisa Forbes won by 683 votes, leaving the Tories trailing in third position – called for the “squabbling contenders” within the Conservative party to give the public a general election. The Labour leader, flanked by Forbes and MP Louise Haigh, who masterminded the byelection victory, told Labour supporters in the city centre the party “is not at the stage yet” to push for a public vote. Asked about Labour splits over a people’s vote, he said: “Obviously every party discusses its own position and its own strategy. I have said all along that we would put to parliament our proposals on a customs union on a trade relationship and the dynamic protection of consumer and workers’ rights.” – Guardian

…while Scottish Labour is to decide on support for a referendum on a Brexit deal

The party’s executive committee is due to meet in Glasgow to determine its policy on Brexit following calls from Mr Leonard to commit to a confirmatory vote on any deal to leave the European Union. Ahead of the meeting, a source close to the leader said: “Scottish Labour will back a confirmatory vote on any Brexit deal with a Remain option on the ballot paper. The party will wholeheartedly fight for a Remain victory in such a vote, with Richard playing a leading role in the campaign. Only Scottish Labour is building a radical platform of investment for our people, communities and public services.” Pressure mounted for Labour to clarify its position on Brexit following a poor showing at the European elections, which saw the party slump to fifth place with just 9.3% of the vote, lose both its MEPs and caused two frontbenchers to resign. – The Courier

Michel Barnier says new Prime Minister will not be allowed to reopen the Brexit deal or ‘secure better backstop terms’…

Michel Barnier tonight insisted the new British PM will not be allowed to reopen Theresa May’s deal or secure better terms on the backstop. The EU’s chief negotiator said the current divorce package is the “only one possible” and different leadership in the UK “will not change” anything. He said the new PM has a choice of accepting Mrs May’s deal, opting for No Deal or cancelling Brexit altogether. Speaking at a conference in Slovakia, the Frenchman said: “In any case, a new prime minister will not change the problem. The problem is there and the new prime minister will have the responsibility with us to solve this problem. We are ready to engage with him and his team. We are ready to work once again for an orderly Brexit.” – The Sun

…while Johnson is told by Brussels that negotiations would be far tougher for him than they were for Theresa May…

Boris Johnson will find Brexit negotiations with the EU even tougher than Theresa May did if he becomes prime minister, officials in Brussels warned. Senior EU officials and diplomats note that throughout the Brexit turmoil of the past two years Mrs May was “never given the cold shoulder”. “The question was always, ‘What can we do to help?’ ” said one European ambassador. “That will not be case for a new prime minister when the favourite candidate has a big trust deficit with us.” In Brussels Mr Johnson is viewed as the frontrunner, followed by Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, and Michael Gove, the environment secretary. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and Sajid Javid, the home secretary, are serious contenders who are not viewed as negatively as other senior Tories, such as Dominic Raab. – The Times (£)

…as the Prime Minister finally quits as Tory leader

On her first day as Prime Minister, Theresa May appointed Boris Johnson as foreign secretary, and stood on the steps of Downing Street vowing to “fight against burning injustice” in Britain to build “a country that works for everyone”. Two years, 10 months and 25 days later, her beleaguered leadership of the Tory Party ended unceremoniously on Friday – leaving her a Prime Minister in office, but no longer in power as Mr Johnson waits in the wings as the favourite to succeed her. Hidden away for the day in her Maidenhead constituency, there were no planned statements or speeches – and only a blurred car shot to mark Mrs May’s final hours as leader of her beloved Conservative and Unionist Party. Even the exchange of letters between Mrs May and the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs was kept under wraps. Under different circumstances, perhaps we would have borne witness to Mrs May’s parting words, as she followed up on her tearful promise of May 24 to leave the job “it has been the honour of my life to hold… serving the country I love.” – Telegraph (£)

Nigel Farage: The Brexit Party’s mission to remake politics has only just begun – there’s plenty to come yet

We are witnessing a dramatic, rapid and undeniable shift in the terrain of British politics – whether the establishment parties want to admit it or not. Take Peterborough as a case in point. In the 2017 general election, the Labour Party won 48 per cent of the vote there, just beating the Tories on 47. Between them they piled up a mighty 95 per cent of Peterborough votes – the embodiment of the old two-party system. By the time of Thursday’s Peterborough by- election, however, everything had changed. The Labour Party clung on to the seat with 31 per cent, while the Tories finished a distant third with 21 per cent. This time the combined total for the two parties barely topped half of the total vote. And coming up between them, just 683 votes behind Labour on 29 per cent, was the Brexit Party. Peterborough, by the way, was Number 201 on the Brexit Party’s list of winnable seats at Westminster. If we can get so close to winning there, then no Tory or Labour seat is safe any longer. – Nigel Farage MEP for the Telegraph (£)

Matthew Goodwin: Why are working-class voters flocking to Farage? Because the Tories have forgotten what they stand for

This week, it was the turn of the people of Peterborough to throw light on the radical transformation of British politics. Coming less than two weeks after the Brexit Party’s victory in the tumultuous European elections to the European Parliament, the Peterborough by-election almost delivered another upset. Labour, whose disgraced MP was convicted for perverting the course of justice and then removed by voters through recall, narrowly clung to power with 31 per cent of the vote. Just 638 votes behind them was the Brexit Party, launched only eight weeks ago and with no data on local voters. Nigel Farage and his party should still have won this pro-Leave seat and their failure to do so reveals his greatest enemy once again: first past the post. – Matthew Goodwin for the Telegraph (£)

John McLellan: By-election message is clear – Deliver Brexit

Not quite a Johnny Nash moment in the great Brexit opera when we can see clearly now, but with the Peterborough by-election result some of the rain has gone and we can see the obstacles in our way. The commonest consent in Scotland is there will never be another bright sunshine day when the UK leaves the European Union so, we are told, it must be stopped or the Union ended. The narrative is Boris Johnson is now unassailable and will be the next Prime Minister, that a No Deal Brexit is therefore much more likely, that the worst predictions will quickly come true, and it will trigger a second independence referendum which amidst social and economic carnage the SNP will win. After that, by the admission of the SNP Growth Commission, more years of pain before those bright sunshine days return again. It doesn’t sound like the rainbow we’ve been praying for. – John McLellan for the Scotsman

Owen Paterson: Boris Johnson is the only man who can win back Tory voters from Brexit Party

For anyone still clinging to the idea that the local election results, the European Parliament results, or the consistently calamitous polling since we failed to leave the EU on 29th March were unrepresentative outliers, the Peterborough by-election will have been a final wake-up call. When Conservative voters switch to the Brexit Party, Labour can win. A General Election could herald a catastrophic Corbyn Government unless the Conservatives can win back those voters who have deserted it. The Party faces a binary choice. We can elect a leader determined to honour our promises to take us out of the EU by 31st October. Or we can face oblivion with more of the dither, delay and dissimulation which have seen us lose a by-election in which, under ordinary circumstances, our candidate Paul Bristow should have been a safe bet. – Owen Paterson MP for the Telegraph (£)

James Forsyth: Tory leadership race is now Boris Johnson’s to lose as MPs back him over Brexit

The Tory leadership is now Boris Johnson’s to lose. He has more MPs backing him than any other candidate and, in the words of one of those who knows the Tory parliamentary party best: “The wind is blowing in one direction.” Everything is going right for the former London Mayor at the moment. Just look at how the court case against him over the Leave campaign’s £350million pledge has been quashed. In a sign of the state of the race, the other campaigns are becoming increasingly frustrated with how the frontrunner is avoiding being grilled on radio and television. “Why are they so afraid of their own candidate? He is their biggest risk,” grumbles one irritated rival. – James Forsyth for The Sun

The Sun: Tories must not crown Boris Johnson PM like Theresa May — it’s a stitch-up

The Tory leadership contest looks like a greater insult to democracy every day. It’s bad enough our new Prime Minister being chosen solely by Tory MPs and members. Worse still that a few candidates seem terrified of public scrutiny. There is simply no excuse for Boris Johnson to duck a TV debate. If he’s the front-runner, let’s see him properly challenged and forced to answer tough questions from his rivals. The Tories are not secretly selecting the new Grand Master of a Masonic Lodge. These men and women are auditioning to run the country. At this pivotal point in our history the public have a right to see what they’re getting — beyond a few bland tweets, manicured newspaper columns or platitudes whispered behind closed doors. Who knows? It might even convince floating voters that this battered party DOES have talent despite its problems. Theresa May was gifted power without scrutiny, then wilted in the spotlight. – The Sun says

Brexit in Brief

  • At long last: Theresa May’s resignation – Joshua Mackenzie-Lawrie for Get Britain Out
  • No, Peterborough doesn’t mean ‘business as usual’ for the Labour Party – Sir John Curtice for the Telegraph (£)
  • Local Tory activists step up bid to oust Dominic Grieve as their MP over Brexit views – PoliticsHome