Updated Sep 29, 2019

U.K. PM denies wrongdoing as police watchdog reviews U.S. businesswoman link

Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, under review by the police watchdog over conflicts of interest allegations concerning American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri when he was London mayor, told the BBC Sunday there's "no interest to declare."

Why it matters: Johnson could face a possible criminal investigation over the claims, first reported by the Sunday Times, as fresh allegations emerged Saturday night.

Catch up quick: The Sunday Times reported previously that Arcuri’s companies received 2 sponsorship grants from Johnson's promotional agency while he was mayor and a 3rd grant this year valued at £100,000 ($123,000) from a former ministerial colleague in the government’s Department for Digital, Culture and Sport.

  • Per the BBC, the office said in a letter to Johnson, "[I]t has been brought to my attention that you maintained a friendship with Ms Jennifer Arcuri and as a result of that friendship allowed Ms Arcuri to participate in trade missions and receive sponsorship monies in circumstances when she and her companies could not have expected otherwise to receive those benefits."

Fresh allegations: The Observer reported late Saturday that Arcuri loaned more than £700,000 ($860,000) to her tech firm just before it won a £100,000 government grant. "It is unclear where the money channelled to Hacker House, a start-up with hardly any income, came from," The Observer said. "This adds to the mystery swirling around the American businesswoman ... and raises further questions for the government."

  • The Sunday Times reported late Saturday that Arcuri told 4 friends that she had an affair with Johnson while he was mayor.
  • The news outlet said David Enrich, now the New York Times' finance editor, had been told of the alleged relationship by 2 of her friends when he was working for another paper and that this account was corroborated by other sources who had spoken to Arcuri.

Context: The Independent Office for Police Conduct is reviewing the report concerning Johnson's time as mayor from 2008 to 2016 because London's mayor is also the capital's police and crime commissioner, the BBC notes.

The big picture: Johnson has had a turbulent start to his premiership since being elected Conservative Party leader in July. He lost 6 votes in the Houses of Commons before suspending Parliament, which the Supreme Court ruled last Tuesday unlawful, prompting the legislature's return.

  • He's also lost the government's majority, and the Conservative Party expelled 21 lawmakers for voting to take control of the legislative agenda in an effort to stop him from forcing through a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31.

Go deeper: The scramble to build barriers to Boris

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Johnson's comments.

Go deeper

British pound remains strong despite Brexit drama

Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

The British pound slipped but was much less volatile than expected after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal was rejected by Parliament on Saturday.

What's happening: The pound fell about 0.7%, but remained above $1.29, near a 5-month high. Big banks in London called in extra staff in anticipation of major market moves that didn't materialize after the first Saturday sitting in the House of Commons in 37 years.

Go deeperArrowOct 21, 2019

Boris Johnson offers longer Brexit deal debate in exchange for snap election

Photo: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday that he would grant members of Parliament an extended timetable to debate his Brexit deal, provided they back a general election on Dec. 12, per the BBC.

The state of play: Johnson's offer significantly ups the stakes in the ongoing Brexit tumult, but there's no guarantee that Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party will agree to the offer.

Go deeperArrowOct 24, 2019

Johnson reaches Brexit deal, but needs Parliament's approval

The man with the deal. Photo: WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this morning that he's reached a "great new" Brexit deal with the European Union — a statement almost unforeseeable one week ago, when Johnson seemed to be steaming toward a constitutional crisis over a potential "no deal" Brexit on the Oct. 31 deadline.

Between the lines: Johnson's deal is similar to the one his predecessor, Theresa May, saw repeatedly rejected in Parliament (including by Johnson), with some tweaks around the crucial issue of Northern Ireland.

Go deeperArrowOct 17, 2019