Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”Halve inflation. Grow the economy. Reduce debt. Cut waiting lists. Stop the boats.”

HM Treasury Twitter account

Facts

These pledges were repeated as part of a Treasury video featuring Jeremy Hunt explaining how he planned to reduce inflation. In truth, the Treasury had and has no plans to reduce debt. On the contrary, government forecasts envisage that debt will rise. 

Gross national debt stood at £2,436.7 billion(2.4 trillion) at the end of June 2022. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility(OBR) it is set to rise to £2.6 trillion in 2022-23, and continue to rise to £3 trillion in 2027-28. 

Debt is the total amount borrowed whereas the deficit is the amount added to the total debt within a single year if the Government is spending more than it is making. According to the OBR the predicted 2022-23 deficit is £177 billion. The deficit is then predicted to fall to £69.2 billion in 2027-28. 

Even with a reduction to the deficit the Government is still adding to the overall debt, it is just a reduction to the speed at which the overall debt is increasing. 

Inflation and economic growth are both subject to international factors beyond government control. 

Verdict

Treasury officials know that debt is expected to rise sharply, and that there are no plans to reduce it (as opposed to mitigate the scale of its rise). This misleading statement was part of a political campaign launched by Rishi Sunak two weeks earlier.

Additional NoteHM Treasury is bound by civil service rules of political impartiality. It broke those rules in this statement. When we reached out to HM Treasury we wrote this in our  covering note : “Please note that we say that HM Treasury is breaking rules of impartiality by issuing this video. We state that you are misleading the British public by saying that the government is reducing debt when you know perfectly well there are no plans to do so.”

Despite sending an email, and following up with a telephone query we’ve had no answer from HM Treasury.

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