“Over the course of this parliament […] we will be spending 100 billion more every year than we did at the beginning. That’s why we’re going to be able to have 50,000 more nurses, 20,000 more police officers, 40 new hospitals.”

Rishi Sunak, Sky News

August 12, 2021

Facts

Rishi Sunak is here restating three of the most notable misleading statements and falsehoods deployed by Boris Johnson in the course of the 2019 general election - and actually chanted by Boris Johnson’s cabinet for television in the aftermath of the cabinet reshuffle the following February. The 20,000 new police officers will simply replace those lost earlier to cuts, while Boris Johnson himself had acknowledged that the figure of 50,000 new nurses was an exaggeration. The boast that the government would build 40 new hospitals was, and remains, false.

Verdict

Pitiful from Chancellor Sunak. He was lying or, to be generous, repeating lies which had already been uttered by Boris Johnson. 

This televised moment of casual political deceit illustrates the difficulty presented by the presence of an habitual and scheming liar as Prime Minister. Boris Johnson’s senior colleagues such as the hapless Sunak seem to feel that they have no choice but to repeat Boris Johnson’s lies if they want to remain in the Cabinet. Sunak may or may not confide to his intimate circle that Johnson’s 40 hospital claim is cynical and fabricated. He cannot do so in public because to do so could question the integrity of the Prime Minister whose government he serves. As a result, he (and many other ministers)  become complicit in the lies, and a central part of Johnson’s machinery of deceit. 

It is highly significant that the Sky reporter failed to challenge Sunak’s false claims. It is rare for political reporters and TV channels to challenge misleading statement made by the Prime Minister and senior ministers. The mainstream media is therefore as complicit as cabinet ministers such as Rishi Sunak in enabling the culture of lies and falsehood that has pervaded British political discourse throughout the Johnson government. For other examples of Chancellor Sunak repeating Boris Johnson’s lies see here and here.

We sent two emails to Chancellor Sunak giving him a chance to challenge this verdict. He has not responded.

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