Pro-Brexit Parliament member Boris Johnson claimed that a poll found most British people wanted a no-deal Brexit.
But, that isn’t the case.
The UK Telegraph posted a correction on Johnson’s January 6 column, “The British people won’t be scared into backing a woeful Brexit deal nobody voted for.”
The column originally claimed,
“Of all the options suggested by pollsters – staying in the EU, coming out on Theresa May’ terms, or coming out on World Trade terms – it is the last, the so-called no-deal option, that is gaining in popularity. In spite of – or perhaps because of – everything they have been told, it is this future that is by some margin preferred by the British public.”
The UK press regulator the Independent Press Standards Organisation reviewed the column and error after a complaint.
The Telegraph defended the column as “clearly an opinion piece” that didn’t reference “specific dates or polls.” Further, IPSO reported the Telegraph said, “It said that the writer was entitled to make sweeping generalisations based on his opinions and that the complainant had misconstrued the purpose of the article; it was clearly comically polemical, and could not be reasonably read as a serious, empirical, in-depth analysis of hard factual matters.”
IPSO agreed columnists can “campaign, be partisan and express strong opinions using hyperbole, melodrama and humour,” but factual claims may be accurate. Since there was no evidence for the polling claim, “it was a significant inaccuracy, because it misrepresented polling information.”
According to the Guardian, Mitchell Stirling complained to IPSO over the claim because “a potential prime minister shouldn’t be able to make things up in a weekly column.”
“I complained because Johnson’s article went beyond him referring to anecdotal evidence around the popularity of no deal and saying it was becoming more popular (which it was) but to saying that polling was showing it was the most popular opinion by some clear margin. Both of which were not backed up by any polling done by a BPC [British Polling Council] member.
iMediaEthics has written to the Telegraph.