New session of Parliament: live blog

Last updated: 22 May 2024

Full Fact’s rolling live blog of political fact checks

4 January 2024, 4.03pm

Conservative party chair repeats misleading claim about Labour’s immigration plans

In a column published in the Daily Express on 27 December (also online) Conservative party chair Richard Holden wrote: “Labour’s so-called ‘plans’ to stop the boats include accepting a share of illegal migrants from safe EU countries through the back-door, which would see Britain take in 100,000 extra illegal migrants, already in Europe, every single year.”

We’ve written about this figure several times over recent months. As our full fact check explains, it’s based on a Conservative party calculation that is inaccurate.

Madeleine Sumption, director of Oxford University’s Migration Observatory, told us: “The claim that a returns deal with the EU would mean the UK accepting 100,000 asylum seekers from Europe is incorrect: there are no two ways about it.”

Sir Keir Starmer has previously said Labour would seek a returns deal with the EU, but hasn’t said the number of migrants it might involve. The party has also explicitly said it would not join the quota deal with the EU on which the Conservatives based their calculation.

We’ve written to the Conservative party and various government ministers a number of times asking them not to repeat this figure.

4 January 2024, 11.27am

Immigration stats front and centre as politics returns

It may be a new year, but 2024 kicked off with a topic that dominated politics in 2023: immigration. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), the Prime Minister claimed that the government had successfully cleared the “asylum backlog”.

As we explain in our new fact check, this is misleading.

Mr Sunak’s claim actually relates to the “legacy backlog”, a specific subsection of the total number of outstanding asylum cases which the government pledged to clear by the end of 2023.

The government says all of these cases have now been processed and most—though not all—have been resolved. As of 28 December 2023, around 4,500 “legacy backlog” applications were still awaiting an initial decision, down from around 92,000 last year when the Prime Minister first set out the government’s plan to clear the backlog.

The overall asylum backlog, however, still stands at almost 100,000 cases.

22 December 2023, 4.10pm

A break from blogging over Christmas

We’ve enjoyed trialling Full Fact’s politics blog in the last few weeks, and as always we’re interested to hear feedback

Our politics coverage will be taking a break over Christmas, but we’ll be looking to pick it up again in the new year. Watch this space for more fact checking of politicians’ claims, coverage of big political events such as Prime Minister’s Questions, insights into our fact checking process and to look ahead to the general election. 

In the meantime we wish our readers a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

21 December 2023, 1.53pm

Keir Starmer has not said he wants to sign up to new EU quota scheme on migrant relocations

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) yesterday, the home secretary James Cleverly claimed Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer “wants to join” a recently agreed EU pact which includes a scheme for the relocation of some asylum seekers across member states. Mr Cleverly’s comments have also been reported by the Express and MailOnline.

As we’ve previously explained, Mr Starmer did say in September that he would ultimately seek a migrant returns deal with the EU, which could potentially involve the UK agreeing to take some asylum seekers from the EU. However, Labour has repeatedly ruled out joining the quota agreement referenced by Mr Cleverly, and given the UK is no longer in the EU, it’s unclear how this would even be possible.

We don’t know how many migrants the UK might take under a future returns deal with the EU—Labour has not said what such a deal would involve, or how many migrants it would accept.

The Conservatives have repeatedly made misleading claims about Labour’s plans for migration in recent months, which we’ve written about on multiple occasions.

We’ve contacted Mr Cleverly’s office about his comments and will update this post if we get a response.

19 December 2023, 5.07pm

Prime Minister corrects parliamentary record after Full Fact intervention

Full Fact is pleased to have secured our first correction from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. 

At Prime Minister’s Questions last month, Mr Sunak said there are “200,000 people employed in Scotland’s North Sea oil and gas industry”. 

However, as we pointed out at the time, this figure refers to the number of people employed in the sector across the entirety of the UK. In Scotland, around 96,000 jobs are supported by oil and gas. 

After this exchange we wrote to Mr Sunak to ask him to correct the record.

Mr Sunak has since acknowledged his error and submitted a letter of correction to Hansard. 

He said: “An error has been identified in my answer to the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson) in Prime Minister’s Questions”, and provided an updated and corrected answer, in which he states there are “200,000 people employed in the UK’s North sea oil and gas industry”. 

We’d like to thank Mr Sunak for his correction.

19 December 2023, 3.30pm

Was the UK the first country to send main battle tanks to Ukraine?

At the Liaison Committee today, the Prime Minister twice claimed the UK was the “first country” to provide main battle tanks (MBTs) to Ukraine. 

This appears to be incorrect. Mr Sunak has made similar claims before, which we’ve written about here

The Czech Republic reportedly sent T-72 MBTs in April 2022, while Poland reportedly sent PT-91 MBTs in the summer of 2022. 

Modern Leopard 2 MBTs from Poland and Norway reportedly arrived in Ukraine in February and March 2023, shortly ahead of a set of British Challenger 2 MBTs which arrived at the end of that month. 

However, the UK was arguably the first country to confirm it was sending Western tanks to Ukraine.

19 December 2023, 12.58pm

Prime Minister to appear before the Liaison Committee

One of the last items on the parliamentary agenda before the House of Commons breaks for Christmas is the Prime Minister’s appearance this afternoon before the Liaison Committee. This is one of the regular opportunities for the chairs of various Commons select committees to quiz the PM, and today Rishi Sunak is expected to be asked about global affairs, economic issues, COP28 and energy concerns.

In the last twelve months, we’ve fact checked a whole range of claims that Mr Sunak has made—over 30 of them, in fact. We started the year by looking at claims Mr Sunak made in his New Year speech, setting out his five priorities for the year. More recently we’ve looked into whether aid to the Palestinians has doubled, the context behind the government’s new approach to Net Zero and whether wages are growing relative to inflation

We’ve also asked Mr Sunak to correct the record at least five times this year, sadly without success so far. 

Full Fact will be monitoring the committee’s proceedings this afternoon.

19 December 2023, 11.15am

The Conservatives’ ‘100,000 migrants’ claim is back … in meme form

Last week we saw a familiar Conservative claim repeated in a new (and somewhat unexpected) form—as a meme, on the party’s X account.

An edited version of the popular Drake ‘Hotline Bling’ meme—with the face of Sir Keir Starmer replacing that of the Canadian musician—showed the Labour leader apparently rejecting “100,000 new homes” but welcoming “100,000 illegal migrants” instead.

We’ve written several times now about the Conservative party claim that Labour’s immigration plans would result in an additional 100,000 migrants coming to the UK. The way this figure’s been calculated is not correct

Mr Starmer has said Labour would seek “an EU-wide returns agreement”, but there’s no reliable way of knowing the number of migrants it might involve. We don’t know the full details of Labour’s policy, but the party has said it has no plans to join the EU migrants agreement on which the Conservative analysis was based.

Oxford University’s Migration Observatory has also told us: “The claim that a returns deal with the EU would mean the UK accepting 100,000 asylum seekers from Europe is incorrect: there are no two ways about it.”

We’ve written to Mr Sunak about the use of the “100,000 migrants” figure, and asked him to correct the record. We’ve also previously asked him to take steps to prevent the claim being repeated. We have still not received a response.

14 December 2023, 12.41pm

Full Fact secures changes to official websites

At Full Fact we want our fact checking to achieve practical change, so that people have access to good information. So we’re delighted to have secured a change to the UK Parliament website and been told that the government will also update its website after both incorrectly stated that mayoral elections in England, including the election for Mayor of London, use the ‘Supplementary Vote’ (SV) system rather than ‘First Past the Post’ (FPTP). 

While mayoral elections previously used SV, a change brought in by the Elections Act 2022 means that since May 2023 FPTP has been used in mayoral elections in England instead. 

Up to the start of this week, both sites said that mayoral elections still used SV. 

Parliament has now updated its website after we pointed out the error, and the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is in the process of updating Gov.uk too.

You can read more about why this mix-up matters here

13 December 2023, 5.44pm

More claims from PMQs fact checked

At Prime Minister’s Questions today, Rishi Sunak said the government has recruited "20,000 more police officers". As we wrote in April, this is correct based on the increase since 2019, but doesn’t tell the whole story. The recent rise follows a significant fall in the number of police officers in the years prior to 2017.

In 2019 the government announced its intention to recruit 20,000 officers in England and Wales as part of an “uplift” programme. However, due to the decline in previous years, the majority of the new officers were simply replacing the ones who had been lost. 

The recruitment campaign ended in March 2023. At that time, by headcount, there were around 3,500 more officers in England and Wales than there had been in 2010.

Mr Sunak also said there are “hundreds of thousands fewer children in poverty today thanks to this government”. This figure is correct in terms of absolute poverty, but there are different ways to measure poverty, and relative poverty statistics paint a different picture.

The number of children in absolute poverty after housing costs across the UK has fallen from 3.7 million in 2009/10 to 3.3 million in 2021/22. The equivalent figures before housing costs also show a drop, from 2.5 million to 2.2 million.

However, the number of children in relative poverty has increased since 2009/10—from 3.9 million to 4.2 million after housing costs, and from 2.6 million to 2.9 million before housing costs.

We wrote more about the difference between absolute and relative poverty, and other ways of measuring poverty, in this fact check about a different claim back in June.

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