Boris Johnson attacked for being 'out for himself ' after receiving £43,000 for speech backing no-deal Brexit

Lucrative 'deal or no deal' pledge on Halloween departure charted course for the leadership contest - and slashed odds on a crash-out Brexit

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 04 July 2019 16:04
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Theresa May tears up during resignation speech

Boris Johnson was paid almost £43,000 for the speech that set Britain on course for a no-deal Brexit, sparking fresh criticism of his lucrative earnings.

The likely next prime minister pocketed the sum when he delivered his vow to leave the EU on 31 October “deal or no deal”, at an economic conference in Switzerland.

The lucrative speech – made within hours of Theresa May’s tearful resignation – was a toughening of Mr Johnson’s stance, immediately seen as making a crash-out Brexit far more likely.

With the EU refusing to renegotiate the existing divorce deal, it slashed the odds on a no-deal Halloween departure if, as expected, he grabs the Tory leadership crown later this month.

Matthew Pennycook, Labour’s shadow Brexit minister, said: “If you needed any more proof that Boris Johnson is out for himself and entirely unfit to be prime minister, then here it is.

“How on earth can he justify being paid tens of thousands of pounds to make a speech about his no deal plans that would be disastrous for working people across the country?”

Anna Soubry, the Change UK leader, said: “Boris Johnson was getting richer while setting the country on a path to getting poorer. Every time you think he couldn’t sink much lower, out comes more details of how unsuitable he is to be prime minister.”

And Tom Brake, the Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman said: “Johnson is a man with no shame. He lines his pockets while millions around the country will pay a heavy price for his bluster, but Johnson won't be one of them.”

In Switzerland, on 24 May, the Tory leadership frontrunner told his audience: “We will leave the EU on 31 October, deal or no deal. The way to get a good deal is to prepare for a no deal.”

The refusal to consider another Article 50 extension charted the course for the contest, piling pressure on the other candidates to do the same.

It confirmed the fear of Tory moderates that the demands of the race – to be decided by the Europhobic Tory membership – would push the UK into an even more perilous Brexit stance.

The payment was revealed in the latest register of MP’s financial interests reading “received £42,580 from Swiss Economic Forum” for “a speaking engagement on 24 May 2019”.

The entry added: “Hours: 3hrs. Transport also provided for myself and a member of staff”.

Mr Johnson has increased his funding lead over Jeremy Hunt in the leadership race, registering £235,000 in the past two weeks, taking the total amount he has received in the last year to £502,000.

By comparison, Mr Hunt drew a blank – registering no additional donations in the last two weeks, the figures showed.

The majority of money donated to Mr Johnson’s campaign came from hedge fund managers and other financiers backing Britain’s exit from the European Union, favouring low taxes and the deregulation of the UK economy.

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