An IPSO complaint was made which said no poll available at the time of publication supported Johnson’s claim. IPSO upheld the complaint, concluding it was “a significant inaccuracy” which “misrepresented polling information.” The false statement was removed and the online Telegraph article now carries a correction which says “no poll clearly showed that a no deal Brexit was more popular than the other options.”
Johnson’s claim was a lie.
This case was of special interest because it once again demonstrated the readiness of the British media to collaborate with Johnson to excuse his lies of false statements. In its defence of Johnson, The Telegraph said he was “entitled to make sweeping generalisations based on his opinions.” It said his article was “clearly comically polemical, and could not be reasonably read as a serious, empirical, in-depth analysis of hard factual matters.” Johnson was at that time a former mayor of London and foreign secretary and favourite to succeed Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister. It was and remains extraordinary that The Daily Telegraph, supposedly a newspaper of record, tried to excuse Johnson’s fabrication on the grounds that he was a writer not intended to be read seriously.