New session of Parliament: live blog

Last updated: 10 April 2024

Full Fact’s rolling live blog of political fact checks

24 November 2023, 5.17pm

Is Rishi Sunak being unfairly hammered over his DIY skills?

A video of the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak using the side of a hammer while on a visit to Farsley, West Yorkshire has been getting a pretty high number of views on social media, after it was included in an ITV News broadcast yesterday.

Among those posting about it on X (formerly Twitter) was the Labour Party, which shared a video captioned: “Man who hammers working people can’t work a hammer”. 

However, in a longer clip shared by a BBC political correspondent that includes the moments before Mr Sunak began hammering, the woman he’s sitting alongside can be heard telling Mr Sunak to use “this bit” of the hammer and gesturing at the hammer’s edge.

Mr Sunak asks the woman: “Sideways?”. She replies: “Yeah”. 

After Conservative party chair Richard Holden MP commented on Labour’s “mistake” highlighting the clip, Labour posted again saying: “Urgent correction: man who hammers working people uses hammer as instructed.” 

We’ve asked Labour and Number 10 for comment. 

At Full Fact, we sometimes see videos or images of politicians taken out of context, edited or miscaptioned—for example, we recently fact checked an edited image of the Prime Minister pouring a pint of beer. We also found last month that an image of Mr Sunak shared on his official X account hadn’t been altered as some critics claimed

24 November 2023, 12.17pm

‘Failed asylum seekers’ and ‘similar’ European plans: claims about the government’s Rwanda plan fact checked

Last week the UK’s Supreme Court unanimously upheld a ruling that the government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda was unlawful.

After this ruling, we saw a number of claims about the Rwanda plan, including that it involves “failed asylum seekers”, as well as comparisons with other European countries apparently pursuing similar schemes to the UK’s Rwanda partnership. We thought these would benefit from further explanation.

Read our fact check here.

23 November 2023, 5.47pm

House building figures are not at a 70-year low

This morning, on the Today programme, Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves claimed “house building today is at a 70-year low”.

That’s not what current house building figures for England show, as we pointed out when Ms Reeves reportedly made a similar claim last month. (Housing is a devolved matter so the UK government has responsibility for policy in England.) 

There are two main official measures of house building—’net additional dwellings’, which measures how many new homes have been created and includes conversions such as offices to flats, and ‘indicators of new supply’, which shows the number of new build homes being started and completed. 

According to the latest annual figures for net additional dwellings, 232,820 new homes were created in 2021-22. That’s 10% more than the year before and 85% more than the figures for 2012/13, which was the lowest number on this measure since this data began being collected in 2000.

The latest figures for indicators of new supply also show significantly more homes were built than a decade ago. 

However, one industry projection earlier this year did suggest house building could hit a post-war low in the next few years, depending on whether or not certain policy changes occur. 

23 November 2023, 5.21pm

PM’s claim about jobs in the oil and gas industry fact checked

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

We took a look at this claim, and found the 200,000 figure appears to refer to the total number of jobs supported by oil and gas across the whole of the UK.

According to industry body Offshore Energies UK, the sector supports around 93,600 jobs in Scotland. 

Read our fact check here.

23 November 2023, 1.16pm

Countering online misinformation on the Israel-Gaza conflict

While today’s front pages in the UK are dominated by the reaction to yesterday’s Autumn Statement, the big international focus continues to be the Israel-Gaza conflict, particularly given the prospect of a pause in fighting and a deal for the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian detainees. 

Since the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October, Full Fact has seen a surge in connected online misinformation.

We’ve published more than 30 fact checks on this, many to do with the sharing of images and videos which purport to relate to the current conflict, but on closer inspection turn out to show completely different events. Recent examples include footage falsely alleging to show an Israeli police officer killing a Palestinian child, a miscaptioned video supposedly of Palestinians faking injuries, and one wrongly claiming to show the destruction of the Palestinian parliament building in Gaza

None of these videos actually showed what was claimed—although as a warning, much of this content is violent and distressing regardless. 

We’ve also fact checked claims by UK politicians that relate to the conflict, including government statements about doubling aid for Palestinian civilians, and comments by MPs relating to protests in London and other UK cities in recent weeks. 

You can find the full list of Israel-Gaza fact checks on our website here, and you can read our guide on how to spot misleading videos here.

22 November 2023, 1.11pm

Rishi Sunak’s PMQs poverty claim refers to absolute, not relative, poverty

At Prime Minister’s Questions just now, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “1.7 million fewer people are living in poverty”.

This is correct based on one measure of poverty, but others offer a different picture.

Mr Sunak’s figure appears to be based on the number of people in absolute poverty after housing costs, which has fallen by 1.7 million since 2009/10 according to the latest DWP figures published in March. The number in relative poverty after housing costs, however, is up by 900,000 over the same period.

We wrote more about the different ways of measuring poverty in this fact check about a different claim back in June.

22 November 2023, 12.58pm

Sir Keir Starmer wrong at PMQs about number of people on NHS waiting list

At Prime Minister's Questions today, the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that “7.8 million people are currently” on NHS waiting lists.

This isn’t what the latest NHS England figures show, as we wrote earlier this week about a similar claim.

There are an estimated 6.5 million individual patients waiting for treatment in England. 

They're waiting for 7.8 million treatment pathways to begin—some are waiting for multiple courses of treatment.

Mr Starmer is the third Labour politician we’ve heard make this claim over the last week, alongside shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and MP Angela Eagle.

Mr Starmer was right to say that the number of people on waiting lists in England has risen by about half a million in the past year.

22 November 2023, 11.47am

Is the UK’s national debt ‘now beginning to fall’?

On Sky News this morning, Conservative MP Stephen Hammond made a claim about the UK’s national debt while discussing the Autumn Statement.  

He said he wanted to see that the government “have shown that we have run the economy fiscally responsibly”, adding: “I think you’re going to see that today with some of the OBR [Office for Budget Responsibility] forecasts about the fact that debt is now beginning to fall.” 

We’re not entirely clear what Mr Hammond was referring to here—the OBR publishes a new set of forecasts this afternoon, though the content of these isn’t public yet. But we looked at this topic recently, after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak claimed earlier this month that the UK’s national debt “is falling”.

At the time, we found Mr Sunak’s claim wasn’t correct according to the latest official figures, which showed that the national debt in September 2023 had increased compared to the previous year

In March 2023, when it made its last set of forecasts, the OBR predicted overall public sector net debt would peak in 2023-24 and fall thereafter.  Underlying public sector net debt, the measure the government used in its target, wasn’t forecast to fall for several years. Those forecasts may change when new data comes out today, however. Earlier this month Isabel Stockton, senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, told us in relation to Mr Sunak’s claim: “Headline public sector net debt has just—as in, the past quarter—stabilised in cash terms, so is probably falling ever so slightly as a percentage of GDP, though we don’t actually have that quarterly GDP outturn yet.”

22 November 2023, 9.22am

The Autumn Statement—and another busy day in Westminster

It’s been a hectic few weeks in politics, what with the King’s Speech, London protests, Cabinet reshuffle, vote on a Gaza ceasefire and more, and today promises another big moment, as the chancellor unveils his Autumn Statement. 

On days such as this the Full Fact team steps up its monitoring of political claims, while continuing our work tackling health and online misinformation as well. 

Right now, our fact checkers are doing their usual morning monitoring—reading the newspapers, listening to the broadcast round, scanning social media and checking tips from readers, looking for claims we should investigate further (or have already fact checked previously). 

Unsurprisingly pre-Autumn Statement speculation dominates the political news agenda this morning—much of it is based on off-the-record briefings or informed guesswork, which isn’t fact checkable, but we’re looking for statements of fact which might be. 

At 12pm Prime Minister's Questions—normally a focal point of the political week, but today more a warm-up for the main event—gets underway. We monitor this in real time, with a team of five or six fact checkers updating a collaborative Google Doc with claims as they are made, initial analysis of claims and, where we can, verdicts. 

We also use Full Fact’s AI tools to scan for claims we can instantly match and provide a transcript. Any immediate fact checks we can publish will go out via X (formerly Twitter) and this live blog too. 

Then at around 12.40pm we’ll move on to monitoring the Autumn Statement itself. This will likely involve a slightly smaller team, as fact checkable claims are likely to be more spaced out, amidst a blizzard of Treasury-approved numbers and forward-looking pledges. We’ll be ready to scan the underlying Treasury documents too, when they’re published—and keep a close eye on media and social media reaction to identify claims which may be challenged and deserve further scrutiny. 

A busy day then. Stay tuned…

21 November 2023, 5.20pm

Labour MP repeats claim 7.8 million people on NHS waiting lists, but that’s not what NHS England data shows

On BBC Politics Live earlier today, Labour MP Dame Angela Eagle said “there are 7.8 million people on an NHS waiting list—2.8 million of them whom are of working age”. 

There are not 7.8 million people on NHS waiting lists in England, as we pointed out yesterday following a very similar claim made by shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves. 

There are an estimated 6.5 million individual patients waiting for treatment, according to the most recent NHS England data. But because some patients are waiting for more than one type of treatment, there are around 7.8 million treatment pathways that haven’t been completed. 

We were unable to find figures for the number of working age people on NHS waiting lists. 

We have written to Ms Eagle to ask about both points and will provide an update if we receive a response.

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