Boris Johnson's billionaire backer says he's not backing a no-deal Brexit to make money

PUBLISHED: 18:42 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 18:49 30 September 2019

Crispin Odey appears in the Tories At War documentary. Photograph: Channel 4

Crispin Odey appears in the Tories At War documentary. Photograph: Channel 4

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Boris Johnson's billionaire backer has dismissed claims that his motivation for backing a no-deal Brexit is an opportunity to make millions.

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The opposition frontbench, former chancellor Philip Hammond and even Boris Johnson's own sister has claimed that donors around the prime minister might be urging Johnson to take the UK out of the EU without a deal because it could make them money.

But as the Tories claimed it was a "conspiracy theory" the party had a conflict of interest by pursuing a no-deal Brexit, Odey has also spoken out against the claims.

It follows the Tories At War documentary in which Crispin Odey, who reportedly waged a £300m bet against some of Britain's biggest businesses on the implication their share prices will crash after Brexit, was seen before Boris Johnson became leader encouraging him to do whatever it took to ensure Brexit took place on October 31st.

Odey, the founder of Odey Asset Management, told the Guardian he had only spoken to Boris Johnson once since he became prime minister despite donating £10,000 to Johnson's Conservative leadership campaign.

He had previously given £900,000 to pro-Brexit campaigns.

"I am an observer. When it comes to his strategy, I am not involved," he told the newspaper.

Odey added that accusations made about Johnson's backers was "absolute rubbish".

"It really is. Politics doesn't drive markets. Markets are very bad at observing political events because they are not monetary.

"We are trading currencies all the time, long and short. Sterling is weak because we have a big current account deficit and an annual budget deficit of 2.5% of GNP [gross national product]. And we have all this noise about whether we are coming out on 31 October and who governs the country - Boris or parliament."

Hours after the referendum result, Odey told the BBC: "There's that Italian expression - 'Il mattino ha l'oro in bocca' - the morning has gold in its mouth, and never has one felt so much that idea as this morning."

But on Monday he said he backed a no-deal Brexit because other proposals for leaving would leave the UK with the equivalent of unattractive "non-voting shares".

Treasury minister Simon Clarke earlie responded to an urgent question from John McDonnell on the matter.

He said: "They amount, frankly, to trying to propagate myths, to smear and indeed in a week when we're trying to lower the temperature of the house, they seem intended to stoke it."

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