Watch: Victoria Derbyshire confronts Tory minister with list of untruths
A Tory minister was left on the defensive when shown a string of apparent false statements told by colleagues in recent days, after claiming her party were the "party of facts".
Michelle Donelan, secretary of state for Science, Innovation and Technology, had used her party conference speech on Tuesday to claim: “We are the party of facts.”
But she was swiftly pulled up on her claim in a BBC Newsnight special from the conference in Manchester, with journalist Victoria Derbyshire running video clips of various claims, then asking: "How can you be the party of facts when none of that is true?" she questioned.
Referring to Rishi Sunak's claim that he would halt plans for people to be forced to split rubbish into numerous piles Derbyshire said: "There was never a proposal to use seven bins."
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Citing other false claims she added: "We can't find any council that wants to decide how often people can go shopping, and Labour have never proposed taxing meat."
As Donelan appeared to struggle for a reply, the presenter asked: "Is this how desperate the Conservative party is now?
"You're making up lies."
In his announcement on revised Net Zero strategies last month, Rishi Sunak claimed he had scrapped “a government diktat to sort your rubbish into seven different bins".
Transport Secretary Mark Harper was seen suggesting “local councils can decide how often you go to the shops”.
Energy Secretary Claire Coutinho told her audience that Labour wants to introduce a tax on red meat.
Derbyshire said none of the claims was based on fact, despite Sunak also having has alluded to the meat tax claim in his net zero speech.
As the interview with Donelan continued she appeared to regain composure, but refused to answer when Derybshire asked whether the Tory mayoral candidate for London Susan Hall, or business minister Nusrat Ghani, was right in their views on language used by politicians.
Hall had suggested that London mayor Sadiq Khan "leaves Jewish people frightened", which Ghani said that using "language of fear and demeaning political opponents" were not values she recognised as representative of the Tory party.
When asked who was right, Donelan responded that Britons "should live in a tolerant and respectful country".
But she went on to confidently state: "I believe that we should stand up for things that are divisive, and promote hatred."
Cabinet minister Michelle Donelan is so frazzled she ended up saying: "I believe that we should stand up for things that are divisive, and promote hatred."
That's not so much a Freudian slip as a Freudian pratfall. ~AA #Newsnight pic.twitter.com/uS8qtIH1Y3
— Best for Britain (@BestForBritain) October 3, 2023
'No evidence' of sinister plot
The claims also fell foul of independent fact-checking site FullFact.
The site said in response to claims of a mooted 'meat tax': "At the Conservative party conference, energy secretary Claire Coutinho said Labour seems “relaxed about taxing meat”.
"Coutinho has not provided evidence to support this claim, and we’ve not found any. Taxing meat is not Labour policy."
The site has also commented on the transport secretary's issues with 15-minute cities.
The global concept of 15-minute cities is based on having shops, services and workplaces within a short walk or bicycle ride from people’s homes.
Harper said: “There’s nothing wrong with making sure people can walk or cycle to the shops or school, that’s traditional town planning.
“But what is different, what is sinister and what we shouldn’t tolerate is the idea that local councils can decide how often you go to the shops, and that they ration who uses the road and when, and they police it all with CCTV."
Some people falsely believe 15-minute cities are a conspiracy led by the World Economic Forum and the United Nations to use surveillance to limit travel - and Harper faced accusations from some that he was deliberately stoking such unfounded fears.
FulFact said in response to his comments: "We’ve seen no evidence that councils implementing the 15 minute cities concept are attempting to place restrictions on how often residents can go to the shops."
'Fresh team of leaders'
The Conservative Party is certainly flagging in the polls.
A poll published on Wednesday revealed that nearly nine in 10 Britons - 86% - believe the UK "needs a fresh team of leaders".
The IPSOS voting intention survey showed that were a general election to take place tomorrow, 44% of people would vote Labour, and just 24% for the Conservative party.
The poll also found that just 22% of voters are satisfied with the job Rishi Sunak is doing as PM (down four from July) and 66% are dissatisfied (a climb of three).
Sunak's net satisfaction score of -44 is his lowest since he became PM, and rivals those of Boris Johnson (-45) and Theresa May (-44) immediately before they left office.