Boris Johnson on the Brexit campaign trail in 2016. Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Former U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been ordered to appear in court over allegations that he lied when he said the U.K. gave the European Union £350 million per week during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign, the BBC reports.

Why it matters: The summons does not provide great optics for Johnson, who is a frontrunner to replace Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party and become the country's next prime minister.

  • The £350 million claim — famously plastered on the side of a bus that argued the money should be used to fund the U.K.'s National Health Service instead — was one of the most memorable visuals of the campaign for the U.K. to leave the EU.

Details: Johnson faces three allegations of misconduct in public office, a charge that could theoretically lead to life in prison. The BBC notes it is an "ancient" offense with roots in 13th century law.

  • Johnson's lawyers called the case, which was brought after a £200,000 crowdfunding campaign, a "stunt" meant to "to undermine the referendum result."

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about Brexit

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