Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”By 2027-28, headline debt levels are reduced by £53.7 billion”

Jeremy Hunt, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Twitter

Facts

Jeremy Hunt took to Twitter to state that public debt levels would fall by 2027-28. 

Labour MP and former Treasury minister, Dame Angela Eagle, wrote to the head of the UK Statistics Authority, Sir Robert Chote, noting that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts indicate that public debt will rise between now and 2027-28, including a £90 billion increase from 2026-27 alone. 

She explained that Hunt appeared to be referring to a fall in the OBR’s current projection for headline debt in 2027-28 compared with the same forecast in last year’s autumn statement. 

In a response, Robert Chote said that Treasury officials had confirmed this was what the tweet referred to: a reduction in the size of the forecast increase of debt, not a fall in the debt itself. 

He went on to explain that “greater clarity and context would have avoided this confusion.” and that the Office for Statistics Regulation [the regulatory arm of the UKSA] had reached out to the officials at HM Treasury to emphasise the importance of using a “transparent and accessible approach to communicating statistics” 

The Guardian newspaper also reached out to the Treasury. They confirmed Hunt’s tweet had referred to the changing forecast for the debt increase, and that it had noted Chote’s points and would take any necessary action.

Verdict

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt was misleading his Twitter followers about the level of public debt. Any reasonable person would have assumed that the Chancellor was referring to actual debt, and not a reduction in the size of the forecast increase of debt. 

This Twitter boast was one of a long series of false statements and straightforward lies issued by Chancellor Hunt, Prime Minister Sunak and the Conservative Party in relation to Sunak’s pledge to reduce debt, made at the start of 2023. 

We emailed Jeremy Hunt’s parliamentary office and HM Treasury offering him the chance to respond. The email was received by both, but no reply. 

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