Employment

Boris Johnson repeats false employment claim in parliament again - having already admitted it's wrong

Johnson also claimed he thinks he “took steps to correct the record” to reflect his error. He hasn’t.

Boris Johnson in Parliament PMQs

Johnson has repeated the claim five times in parliament and nine times in total so far. Image: Parliament TV

Boris Johnson has repeated a false claim about employment for the ninth time – despite admitting he knows it’s incorrect.

During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Johnson claimed there are “record numbers of people now back in work, productivity back above what it was. More than half a million people back on the payroll than there were before the pandemic began.” 

But weeks earlier, while appearing before the Liaison Committee, he acknowledged it was wrong of him to make the claim about overall employment figures. There are more people on payrolls, but the large drop in the number of people who are self-employed means total employment is down.

Johnson has now made the false claim nine times, with fact-checking organisation Full Fact stating “There are *not* more people in work now than there were before the pandemic began. There are half a million fewer.”  

The official statistics watchdog has already written to Johnson – twice – urging him to stop repeating the “misleading” claim in parliament.

Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham, asked the prime minister at the Liaison Committee, which exists to scrutinise the government, whether he accepted the correction made in the letter, sent by Sir David Norgrove, chair of the Office for Statistics Regulation.

Johnson replied that “yes” he did, saying that he was taking “particular care” on all occasions to stress that it was payrolled employment he was talking about. 

He then went on to say: ”I think I did, yes. I think I did” when asked by Timms whether he had corrected the record to reflect his mistruth.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries, as well as leader of the House of Commons Mark Spencer, Nigel Mills, Rob Butler, and Stephen McPartland have all repeated the prime minister’s incorrect claim.

The Ministerial Code requires all ministers to correct any errors, and that “Ministers who knowingly mislead parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.”

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