Boris’ Brexit Telegraph Lies “clearly comically polemical” ?

In an extraordinary confession on Friday, the Telegraph defended Boris Johnson’s false Brexit poll story saying the MP was “entitled to make sweeping generalisations” in his £275k a year column as it “was clearly comically polemical, and could not be reasonably read as a serious, empirical, in-depth analysis of hard factual matters”.


The Telegraph has been forced to print a correction, albeit miniscule, after the prominent Brexiter MP falsely claimed that a no-deal Brexit was the most popular option among the British public.


Despite this, the newspaper brazenly and fiercely defended Johnson’s column to the so-called press regulator, IPSO, arguing that “readers would understand” that the polling mentioned did not actually exist but was used to back up his opinion.


In other words, it’s more than fine for highly influential figures, writing for mainstream newspapers, to deliberately mislead the public with bogus polling dressed as ‘facts’ on matters of national importance, if it supports their opinion.


IPSO upheld the complaint which said polls showed no-deal Brexit was the preferred option “by some margin” after it could not provide any data to back the claim. But in true toothless fashion, the sham regulator argued that a correction in the tiny box on page 2 was good enough, despite the story being teased on the front page of the Telegraph.


IPSO’s online ruling can be read in full here.


Mitchell Stirling, a statistician from Reading, said he made the complaint about Johnson’s fallacious facts because he felt “a potential prime minister shouldn’t be able to make things up in a weekly column”.


And yet, as usual, the press industry’s puppet regulator finds a measly, easily-buried correction more than sufficient after the printing of deliberate inaccuracies.


And worse still, it took IPSO more than 3 months to come to that utterly predictable conclusion.


Is this really regulation?  The press will never take care not mislead the public by publishing falsehoods and inaccuracies, if THIS is the penalty dished out.


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Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

April 15, 2019 at 2:41 pm

My view is that satire and irony are becoming indistinguishable from reality, at the moment, and Boris’ piece is highly likely to be read as fact by a significant number of readers, who might read quickly or only engage with the headline or strap line. I also suggest that Boris is fully aware that many do not read the entire article. This column is meant to deceive. Opinion from an MP, with such a [lurative] broadsheet platform, must be backed by evidence. Brexit is not comical. Brexit will take a generation to recover from. Brexit is not a laughing matter. Boris, and The Telegraph, should be ashamed. The paper, and Boris, know exactly what they’re doing! This is how populism works.

Harry Thomsonreply
April 15, 2019 at 2:44 pm

“(Johnson) wrote stories headlined “Brussels recruits sniffers to ensure that Euro-manure smells the same”, “Threat to British pink sausages” and “Snails are fish, says EU”. He wrote about plans to standardise condom sizes and ban prawn cocktail flavour crisps. He set up Jacques Delors, who was then the European Commission president, as a bogeyman and claimed credit for persuading Denmark to reject the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 with a Sunday Telegraph splash – “Delors plan to rule Europe” – that was seized on by the Nej campaign.
To Johnson, it was all a bit of a jape. “[I] was sort of chucking these rocks over the garden wall and I listened to this amazing crash from the greenhouse next door over in England as everything I wrote from Brussels was having this amazing, explosive effect on the Tory party – and it really gave me this, I suppose, rather weird sense of power,” he told the BBC years later”

£4bn ‘spaffed up a wall’ in cancelled no-deal Brexit preparations.

There has to be a custodial sentence for that.

Helen Gourlayreply
April 15, 2019 at 3:05 pm

If an opinion piece can mislead it needs a ‘full fact’-style piece to accompany it, in which a serious journalist checks whether said opinion stands up to scrutiny. Preferably, newspapers should not allow propaganda.

Chris Blakemorereply
April 15, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Typical Boris Johnson wouldn’t be able to distinguish truth from fiction.

Matthew Hopperreply
April 15, 2019 at 3:36 pm

It is entirely clear that Boris and his ilk have learned nothing whatsoever from the catastrophe that was the consequence of their lies and deceit during the referendum. The damage he did as a foreign Secretary will seem insignificant if her ever becomes leader of the Tory party. Let us never forget the suffering he has inflicted on a totally innocent woman who languishes still in an Iranian jail as a consequence of his inaccurate utterances.

Andy Babingtonreply
April 15, 2019 at 4:42 pm

I believe most people woulds have taken Boris’s comments at face value. It is disingenuous of the Telagraph to say it was comedic. Boris previous. The correction should have been a lot more prominent Boris previous writings when he was a correspondent in Brussels were taken seriously be many people and did a lot to turn a lot of the Conservative party away from the EU. This sort of writing damages democracy, people need accuate information to make an informed decision. The Telegraph, Mail, Sun and express have been printing Euro Myths and lies for 20 years. They are the enemies of democracy. Leveson 2 needs more teeth, the corrections should have equal prominance as the original article, the regulator should be able to make quicker decisions, 3 months is rathe too long.

April 17, 2019 at 12:38 am

Press regulation should have serious sanctions to apply to lies

May 28, 2019 at 7:52 am

Perhaps he should have written it under a suitably comic pseudonym just for clarity – Bogus Doucheson maybe?

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