Why is Boris Johnson still a member of Parliament?
There is an offence, here in the UK, known as Contempt of Parliament (I’ve mentioned it before). An MP is guilty of this if he or she deliberately misleads Parliament, and any MP accused of the offence may be suspended or expelled.
Our odious prime minister is a repeat offender. It is one thing to be “economical with the truth”, as the euphemism goes; it is entirely different to present known falsehoods to the House of Commons as though they were accurate.
Johnson’s latest wheeze involves repeatedly using inaccurate and misleading figures that exaggerated the government’s record on child poverty, in which he stated at Prime Minister’s Questions and in an interview with the BBC that poverty had declined since 2010, and there were now 400,000 fewer families in poverty.
There is no evidence to support the claim. This has been made clear by the Office for Statistics Regulation, whose representatives said that the prime minister had three times used official poverty data “selectively, inaccurately and, ultimately, misleadingly”.
This suggests very clearly that Johnson lied deliberately. This is a clear example of contempt of Parliament. Why has no action been taken against him?
The OSR added: “There is no wrong measure, but there is a wrong way of using the available measures – and that is to pick and choose which statistics to use based on what best suits the argument you happen to be making.”
The complaint, from Anna Feuchtwang, the chair of End Child Poverty, highlighted three occasions when Johnson made inaccurate claims on the government’s record on poverty.
At PMQs on 17 June, Johnson told the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, he was “completely wrong” to say child poverty had risen by 600,000. Poverty had declined since 2010, the PM claimed, and there were now 400,000 fewer families in poverty. Feuchtwang wrote that the 600,000 figure was correct.
When asked by Starmer at PMQs the following week to “do the decent thing” and correct the record on child poverty, Johnson declined and said there were “100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty and 500,000 children falling below thresholds of low income and material deprivation”.
Feuchtwang said that while the 100,000 figure was correct, the second figure was not: she pointed out that “there are actually 1.5 million children classed as low income and materially deprived”.
The third instance was when Johnson was interviewed by Andrew Marr on the BBC on 1 December during the general election campaign, when the PM claimed child poverty had fallen by 400,000 since 2010. Feuchtwang said that official statistics at the time showed the poverty rate had risen on two of the official measures, stayed the same on a third, and fallen by 100,000 on a fourth, suggesting it was unclear where Johnson had found the figure he cited.
It’s time for Johnson to put up or shut up. He must either admit that he lied to Parliament and to the people in order to justify his despicable treatment of the most vulnerable people in the country…
… or he must be expelled from Parliament like the disgrace that he is.
[Some of you may have noticed a similarity in the words above to an article I wrote about former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, seven years ago, when he was merrily lying to Parliament – also about poverty. This is deliberate. Tories have been lying to Parliament throughout the last 10 years of their rule – and getting away with it. They really do seem to be above the law and we should be demanding that this must change NOW.]
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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