Ex-PM Boris Johnson is under scrutiny over his finances
Boris Johnson faced new scrutiny over his finances over the weekend and then made a surprise trip to war-torn Ukraine.
The timing of the former prime minister’s visit has raised eyebrows across social media, considering Johnson was officially ousted from office in September.
He said he was travelling at the invitation of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, although his trip came just after The Sunday Times revealed a supposed connection between Johnson and the current BBC chairman.
The ex-PM allegedly recommended Richard Sharp for the top BBC job weeks after Sharp helped him secure a loan of up to £800,000, all while Johnson was still in No.10.
Labour is now calling for a parliamentary investigation. Sharp has denied that he arranged a guarantor for Johnson, claiming that he “simply connected” people, that there was no conflict of interest.
Johnson’s spokesperson has since said the report was “rubbish”, that the ex-PM did not receive financial advice from Sharp and that all of his financial arrangements “have been properly declared”.
Still, Johnson’s seemingly random trip to Ukraine came under some scrutiny on Twitter, with one user declaring it to be “tragic”.
Johnson had returned to the UK by Monday morning, but his attempts to rebuff the reports were also quickly criticised.
He told Sky News that it was a “load of nonsense”, that Sharp “knows absolutely nothing about my personal finances, I can tell you that for 100% ding dang sure”.
He added: “This is another example of the BBC disappearing up its own fundament.”
But, journalists on Twitter were quick to point out that Sharp himself told BBC staff in a statement that he did introduce Canadian businessman Sam Blyth to cabinet secretary Simon Case.
Sharp added: “I was not involved in making a loan, or arranging a guarantee, and I did not arrange any financing. What I did do was to seek an introduction of Sam Blythe to the relevant official in government.”
Sharp has also called for a review into the process of his own hiring as the BBC’s chair.
It’s also worth noting that the it was The Sunday Times who broke the story, not the BBC as Johnson suggests.
It wasn’t just Johnson who is facing backlash over the claims, either.
Foreign secretary James Cleverly was mocked for refusing to explain if he knew anything about the scandal. He just told BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg that he “spent the whole of last week in the United States of America and in Canada”, before going to his constituency surgery, “having a bit of a rest and doing some shopping”.
Twitter users compared his response to the game show ‘Would I Lie To You?’
Johnson’s sister Rachel Johnson was also invited on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg’s show, and responded to questions about her own brother’s finances.
She said: “All the parties involved have given statements to The Sunday Times, which suggest they did everything above board and everything was transparent.
“I suggest you ask Simon Case, who seems to be the linchpin in both these stories, to come on and say what happened.”
Her presence alone raised questions on Twitter.