Boris Johnson Has Once Again Exaggerated The Number Of People In Work By Half A Million

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday April 27, 2022. (Photo: House of Commons via PA Wire/PA Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday April 27, 2022. (Photo: House of Commons via PA Wire/PA Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday April 27, 2022. (Photo: House of Commons via PA Wire/PA Images)

Boris Johnson is no stranger to getting his facts wrong in the House of Commons.

But even by his standards, he managed to be spectacularly incorrect about the UK job figures during his latest appearance before MPs.

At prime minister’s questions, Johnson was in bullish form as he rejected Keir Starmer’s claims that the government was failing to get to grips with the cost of living crisis.

The Labour leader said: “He sounds like the Comical Ali of the cost of living crisis. He pretends the economy is booming… but in the real world our growth is set to be slower than every G20 country except one – Russia.

“And our inflation is going to be double the rest of the G7. Does he think that denying the facts staring him in the face makes things better or worse for working people?”

But the PM hit back, insisting there were “500,000 more people in paid employment now than there were before the pandemic began”.

But according to the highly-respected Office for National Statistics, there are actually around 500,000 fewer people employed in the UK now than there were pre-Covid.

Between January and March 2020, just as the pandemic began, the ONS said there were 33,012,000 aged 16 and over in employment.

But between December 2021 and February this year - the most recent period for which figures are available - that number had actually fallen to 32,485,000.

It’s not the first time Johnson has been caught out bending the truth about the number of people in work.

The UK Statistics Authority has previously berated the prime minister for wrongly claiming employment levels are higher now than before Covid.

While the number of people on payrolls is higher than before the pandemic, this is more than offset by the number of self-employed people who are no longer working.

Johnson’s latest gaffe came just a week after he wrongly claimed that the government is “cutting taxes for everybody”.

But the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think-tank has said this is not true.

The IFS pointedly branded Rishi Sunak a “fiscal illusionist” last month for claiming to have cut taxes when in fact he was allowing them to go up.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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