Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”Whatever, the inadequacies of the current system, they would be far worse if the Opposition were in power – in fact, the backlog of cases was 450,000 when the last Labour Government handed over to us”

Robert Jenrick, Minister for Immigration, House of Commons

Fact

Speaking in the House of Commons, Robert Jenrick stated that when the Labour Government lost power in 2010, the asylum backlog was 450,000. 

The same day, Stephen Kinnock, Shadow Minister for Immigration, wrote to the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) with concerns over the accuracy of Robert Jenrick’s statement, as well as statements from two other ministers (see here and here).

Sir Robert Chote, Chair of the UKSA, responded on 23 March 2023, stating  that Jenrick’s testimony  did “not reflect the position shown by the Home Office’s statistics.”

Chote explained that “the most appropriate source” of statistics on asylum applications awaiting a decision is the Home Office. These tell us that the number of applications awaiting a decision was 18,954 in June 2010, around the time of the  2010 General Election.

Robert Jenrick is a senior Home Office minister.

Chote added that the same data provides the latest number of undecided asylum applications which was 166,261 at the end of December 2022. This means that during the period from June 2010 to December 2022 there was a net increase in undecided asylum applications of 147,307.

Robert Jenrick rejected the UKSA analysis. In a letter to Sir Robert Chote, he wrote “As I said in the House on 27 March, the statistics I quoted came from a report published by John Vine, then Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration and relate to approximately 400,000-450,000 unresolved legacy records which were still being dealt with by the UK Border Agency in 2010.”

“In addition, you may be aware that the Home Affairs Select Committee, chaired by the then Labour Member for Leicester East, published a report stating that ‘during the late 1990s and early 2000s the Home Office built up a backlog of between 400,000 and 450,000 unresolved asylum cases.”

However, nowhere in his letter did Robert Jenrick address the fact that the figures in the Home Affairs Committee report have been thoroughly debunked, first of all by a subsequent Home Affairs Committee report in 2013, and secondly by the UKSA earlier this year – and most significantly of all by the Home Office itself.

On this basis Jenrick has refused to  correct the record. Stephen Kinnock has asked the Procedure Committee to investigate. His office has confirmed to us that the Committee has not engaged with his request. 

We publish all letters in full below so readers can reach their own judgement about the integrity of Robert Jenrick’s statement. We publish Stephen: Kinnock’s letter to the UKSA and the UKSA’s response to Kinnock; Kinnock’s subsequent letter to Prime Minister Sunak asking both him and Jenrick to correct the record; and finally, Robert Jenrick’s response to the UKSA. 

Verdict

Extraordinary. Robert Jenrick is here rejecting the findings not just of his own Home Office Officials but also of the independent and highly respected UK statistics watchdog, the UKSA. 

Instead he continues to rely on a debunked and discredited Home Affairs Committee Report published twelve years ago.

According to the Ministerial Code, “It is of paramount importance that Ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity.  Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation to the Prime Minister.” 

Robert Jenrick was – and continues to – misleading parliament in defiance of the Ministerial Code, a resignation offence.

We reached out to the Home Office which replied to the effect that this “is not something the Home Office would comment on.” We also reached out to Mr Jenrick’s parliamentary office, but received no reply.

Letter from Stephen Kinnock to the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA)

Response from the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) to Stephen Kinnock

Stephen Kinnock’s letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak: 

Robert Jenrick’s response to the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA)

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