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Thu, 2 July 2020

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PMQs: Keir Starmer urges Boris Johnson to ‘correct the record’ amid clash over child poverty stats

PMQs: Keir Starmer urges Boris Johnson to ‘correct the record’ amid clash over child poverty stats

Boris Johnson was urged to 'correct the record' on child poverty at PMQs (PA)

2 min read

Boris Johnson was urged to “correct the record” by Sir Keir Starmer after accusing him of misleading MPs over reductions in child poverty.

But the Prime Minister defended his answers on the subject at PMQs in the House of Commons, despite the Labour leader saying the Children’s Commissioner had called them “false”.

And instead he doubled, saying there were now “100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty” since the Tories entered Government.

Sir Keir said: “There is a theme to these exchanges. Last week I asked the Prime Minister about two claims about child poverty, he said ‘absolute child poverty and relative child poverty have both declined under this Government’.

“On Monday, the Office of the Children's Commissioner ruled that the Prime Minister's answer was mostly false.

“The Prime Minister also said there are 4,000 fewer families living in poverty now than there were in 2010. 

“On Monday, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner ruled that that was simply false.”

The Labour leader added: “He has been found out. He either dodges the question or he gives dodgy answers. 

“No more witnesses, I rest my case. Will the Prime Minister do the decent thing and correct the record in relation to child poverty?”

But Mr Johnson hit back with a dig at Sir Keir's time as a lawyer, saying: “I am happy to point out to m'learned friend that actually there are 100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty. 

“500,000 children falling below thresholds for low income and material deprivation.”

And he attacked the opposition boss by accusing him of failing to say whether Labour backs the re-opening of schools.

“Talking about child poverty, the single biggest determinant of a child's success is whether or not he or she goes to school,” the PM added.

“I think it is absolutely infamous for him to come to this House one day to say he supports the programme and then the next day not to confirm that he wants kids to go to school now.”

It comes after the fact-checking charity Full Fact said it could not find a source for Mr Johnson’s statistic that there are “400,000 fewer families living in poverty now than there were in 2010”.

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