Boris Johnson has been discredited by an alleged love affair with an American businesswoman whose companies have received tens of thousands of pounds of British government money. The government has now started an official investigation into possible conflicts of interest by Johnson in his time as mayor of London.
The prime minister denies the allegations and his allies dismissed the revelations in The Sunday Times as a politically motivated attack.
A week ago, the Sunday newspaper had revealed that London & Partners, a company set up by Johnson to promote the British capital, had converted about 30,000 euros to the Innotech company, set up by former pole dancer Jennifer Acuri. The money was intended to lure foreign tech companies to London. Earlier this year, another company from Acuri, the low-profit Hacker House, also received a ton from the Ministry of Culture, Media, Sport and Digital Technology.
Initially, the newspaper reported that Johnson had been spotted several times in the London apartment of the American businesswoman. Now friends of Acuri have stated that there was a relationship. According to the businesswoman, she gave the married mayor “technology lessons” during lunch hours. He also took her on several trade missions. The Guardian reported that Johnson would have ensured that the now 34-year-old Acuri received a coveted business visa.
Prince Andrew’s name also appeared. Acuri was at Buckingham Palace at the end of 2014 at a trade event organized by the prince. She was there on behalf of her company Hacker House, which wanted to leave cyber badges for students. Despite the royal support, none of it ended up. The Prince’s name, according to The Guardian, popped up in an extradition case against a hacker house employee suspected of data theft. The palace did not want to comment.
For the prime minister, this affair comes at an unfortunate moment. He is under fire on all sides because of his Brexit collision rate. On Sunday, the annual Tories party congress started in Manchester, but, unlike usual, the House of Commons will remain in session for the coming days. A request for a recess, which is normally a routine procedure, was voted down on Friday by the parliament, which is still furious about Johnson’s failed attempt to send the House of Representatives home for five weeks.
A new confrontation between the government and the highest judges is lurking, now that Johnson has not ruled out that he will ignore the law to prevent a No Deal Brexit on October 31. It is one of the reasons that the Scottish nationalists are trying to persuade Labor to finally give up confidence in Johnson in the coming days, but the opposition party is afraid of elections right now. Moreover, there is resistance within the anti-Brexit camp against the possible appointment of Jeremy Corbyn as interim prime minister.
In the increasingly intense Brexit debate, Johnson received support from an unexpected corner. Through a letter in The Daily Telegraph, the old miner’s boss Arthur Scargill, Margaret Thatcher’s archenemy in the 1980s, expressed his support for the Conservative Prime Minister. “King Arthur” favors Brexit.