Boris Johnson has reiterated a discredited claim that more Britons are in work than before the Covid pandemic – despite having previously accepted a correction by the statistics watchdog.
The prime minister, who was branded a ‘Pinocchio Prime Minister’ on Wednesday, told the House of Commons there were ‘more people at work than before the pandemic’.
It’s the same claim that the UK statistics authority had previously scolded him for making it in parliament – saying it was simply “wrong”.
Johnson has tried to use numbers showing that there are hundreds of thousands more people on the payroll than before the pandemic started.
But the figures do not include the self-employed. The total number of Britons working – if the self-employed are included – is more than 500,000 lower than before the start of the pandemic.
UKSA chairman Sir David Norgrove previously wrote to Mr Johnson that it is wrong to claim that there are more people in work now than before the pandemic started.
Asked by the House of Commons liaison committee last month whether he accepted Sir David’s correction, Mr Johnson said: “Yes, I do … I have been particularly careful today, as aware as I am of Sir David’s chastisement On all occasions, I emphasized that it was contract work that I was talking about.”
But Mr Johnson spoke again on Wednesday of “people at work” without referring to payroll.
He told PMQs: “We will continue to deliver for the British people, making sure we end the problems Covid has left us…More people at work than were there before the pandemic.”
The Full Fact group replied: “The Prime Minister has just said it *again*. There are *not* more people at work than before the pandemic started. It’s half a million fewer.”
However, the prime minister later used the distinction at PMQs when he said there were “more than half a million people back on the payroll”. [more] than there were before the pandemic started.”
Johnson and his ministers have made at least 27 false statements to parliament since the 2019 election and have failed to correct them.
A recent study by the independent – in conjunction with Full Fact – has found that the Prime Minister made 17 of these statements.
None of the rulings have been formally corrected, a process required by the ministerial code. Will Moy, CEO of Full Fact, said it amounted to a “crisis of dishonesty”.
On Wednesday, Labor released details about its attempt to open an investigation into whether Johnson misled parliament in its initial response to reports of Covid number 10 breaches.
MPs will vote Thursday on a motion that, if passed, would refer him to Parliament’s Privileges Committee to investigate whether his behavior amounted to contempt for the House of Commons.
The motion — signed by Westminster leaders from the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Greens, Plaid Cymru, SDLP and Alliance — highlights Mr Johnson’s comments in the Commons on Dec. 1 and Dec. 8, including assurances “that all guidelines were followed in No 10”.
Johnson was branded a “Pinocchio Prime Minister” during PMQs Wednesday by SNP MP Richard Thomson.
But Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle called on Mr Thomson to withdraw the comment and be “more moderate” in his language.