Boris Johnson repeats controversial '£350m-a-week for NHS' Brexit claim

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in an open letter layed out his plan for "glorious Britain after Brexit".

"As we prepare to leave the European Union it is therefore vital that we agree a new way to ensure continued security, law enforcement and criminal justice cooperation", she said.

"It is a clear misuse of official statistics", Norgrove said in a letter to Johnson on Sunday.

"All those who write off this country, who think we don't have it in us, who think that we lack the nerve and confidence to tackle the task ahead, they have been proved wrong before, and believe me they will be proved wrong again", Mr Johnson said.

David Norgrove, of the UK Statistics Authority, said he was "surprised and disappointed" that Johnson was still quoting a figure that confused gross and net contributions.

"I think what Boris has done, is help to reenergise the Leave debate".

His intervention, exactly one week before the prime minister makes a major speech on Brexit in Florence next Friday, raised more than a few eyebrows among politicians and commentators.

The timing of his Brexit broadside is important because May is scheduled to detail her own Brexit views at a much-touted speech in Italy on September 22.

Asked if he viewed himself as "Theresa May's Willie", a reference to Margaret Thatcher's remarks about her reliance on deputy Willie Whitelaw, he replied: "I was a huge admirer of Willie Whitelaw in my youth and absolutely I would be very content to have him as a role model".

Damian Green, a close ally of the prime minister, told Radio 5live's Pienaar's Politics, that the timing of Mr Johnson's article "could have been better for all sorts of reasons not least the awful terrorist incident we've had".

The claim - "we send the European Union £350m a week, let's fund our NHS instead" - was painted on the side of the Vote Leave campaign bus during the 2016 referendum campaign.

After his article's publication in the Telegraph Mr Johnson later tweeted he was "all behind Theresa for a glorious Brexit".

"There are two stages before you get to that - first of all we need to agree the quantum of money that will be available to spend after we leave and secondly we need to decide how to spend that", said Green. May's speech may be seen by many as a challenge to her authority, weakened by a poor result in the June 8 election that cost her Conservative Party its majority in Parliament.

Mr Johnson also insisted that Brexit will allow the United Kingdom to "be the greatest country on earth" and "our destiny will be in our own hands".

  • Rogelio Becker