The PM is at it again. As LabourList readers know, misleading parliament – and people generally – is a favourite hobby of his. You’ll remember of course his dodgy adding up on the immigration health surcharge, and when he contradicted what was written in his own government’s advice on care homes. In this particular instance of Tory deception, the Office for Statistic Regulation has concluded that Boris Johnson repeatedly made “incorrect” claims about the level of child poverty. Following complaints by charities, the watchdog agreed that the PM’s claim on The Andrew Marr Show in December last year, that there are “400,000 fewer children in poverty than there were in 2010”, was incorrect. It also found that his claims during Prime Minister’s Questions about relative and absolute child poverty having fallen were simply not true.
Labour has slammed the PM for lying and called on him to correct the record. Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said: “Children and families in such difficult circumstances deserve better than this shabby treatment from an out of touch Prime Minister who has repeatedly failed to be honest about the challenges they face.” The OSR has written to No 10. And it’s clear child poverty is going to be a key focus of the new Labour leadership, as discussed by Jonathan Reynolds in his interview with LabourList. If you missed our event last night, catch up here on the conversation that covered scrapping Universal Credit, “not ruling out” a universal basic income and more.
Meanwhile, Rachel Reeves has declared that “the landing zone for a negotiated deal with the EU will surely be found in the principles and promises of the political declaration”. Labour has been pretty quiet on Brexit so far this year, but the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has set out the party’s position in an article for LabourList this morning. Focusing on the political declaration, she made clear that Labour will be trying to keep the Conservatives to the commitments made in that document. In particular, Reeves highlighted the promise to achieve a free trade agreement, free of “tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all sectors” – and the fact that businesses look to be facing between £7bn and £13bn of extra business costs each year in customs declarations. As far as Labour is concerned, it seems, the political declaration is the roadmap for the future – and the party is determined to make sure the Tories deliver on what they promised.
Labour has issued another stark warning to the government about childcare in the pandemic. Earlier this month, shadow early years minister Tulip Siddiq warned of an impending “wave of nursery closures“. Now, the party has described a “perfect storm” brewing in the sector – with significant increases in the cost of childcare since 2010, in many regions by as much as 50%, and a high number of providers being at risk of closure due to Covid-19. Both will stop parents returning to work, Labour has said. Kate Green described this as a “stark reminder that Boris Johnson is completely out of touch with the needs of working families”. And it certainly feels that way – government figures have repeatedly failed to mention childcare in their various speeches over the past few months about saving the economy. The Chancellor failed to do so in his ‘summer economic update‘, and the PM didn’t when outlining plans to reopen the education system. It must not be much of a consideration for our Tory leaders.
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