No10 Refuses To Correct The Record After Boris Johnson Incorrectly Claimed Labour Voted Against 2.1% NHS Pay Rise
Boris Johnson claimed at PMQs that Labour opposed the NHS Funding Bill when records show there was no vote in the Commons on it (Alamy)
Downing Street has repeatedly refused to accept that Boris Johnson misled Parliament over Labour’s voting record despite his claims having to be “clarified” by the Speaker.
And the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said he would not seek to correct the record or apologise for saying Sir Keir Starmer’s party opposed the NHS Funding Bill when they didn’t.
The row broke out after a PMQs in which Starmer criticised the decision to recommend nurses for a 1% pay rise next year, less than half of what was laid out in legislation passed last year.
After suggestions he has gone back on his word, Johnson said to the opposition leader: “He voted against the document in question, to crown the absurdity of his point!”
But records clearly show the NHS Funding Bill passed its all-important second reading without a formal vote.
Straight after PMQs shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth raised a Point of Order, saying: "The Prime Minister twice from that despatch box said that the Labour opposition voted against the NHS Funding Bill and the 2.1% increase for NHS staff - this is not the case.
"Indeed, in the debate, as Hansard will show, I was explicit that we would not be dividing the House.
"So can you, Mr Speaker, use your good office to get the Prime Minister to return to the House and correct the record."
In response Hoyle said: "It is certainly a point of clarification - that part has been achieved.”
In a subsequent briefing with journalists Allegra Stratton, the PM’s spokesperson, was asked if Johnson would apologise and correct the record.
She replied: “The Speaker addressed it in the House immediately after, the shadow health secretary and the Speaker said that it was a point of clarification, and he regarded it as having been dealt with.”
Pressed if that meant the PM accepted he was wrong, she repeated her past answer: “The Speaker regards a point of clarification as having been made. And that's appropriate.”
On whether MPs have a responsibility to clarify their own mistakes rather than leaving it to Hoyle, Stratton replied: “The key thing is that this was dealt with swiftly and the Speaker, who has enormous respect and authority in Parliament, regards it as a point of clarification, and that it's now been dealt with.”
She refused repeatedly to say why the PM would not apologise for the false claim, but when it was suggested this meant he was not concerned about the truth the spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister is concerned about the truth in these matters.
“He comes to Prime Minister's Questions and he comes to the chamber very frequently and answers a great number of questions from all sides of the house.”