Boris Johnson gave a wide-ranging interview to the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, focusing on security but also covering Brexit, and the NHS, as well as the plans of the Labour Party. Here are his most eye-catching claims fact-checked.
Claim 1: The government is putting extra money into counter-terrorist policing
Discussing measures to tackle terrorism in the wake of Friday’s London Bridge attacks, Mr Johnson said: “We’ve obviously invested a great deal in counter-terrorism in the Spending Review. We put another £160m into counter-terrorism.”
In September, Boris Johnson’s government announced its spending plans for 2020-21. These only included increasing funding for counter-terrorism in line with inflation.
Those plans also include a pledge to continue for another year “the additional £160m announced at Budget 2018.”
In fact, Budget 2018 only increased counter-terrorism funding by £59m or 8% on the previous year, as this written answer in the House of Commons shows.
The £160m is the difference between spending plans announced in 2015 and the figure eventually spent in 2019-20.
Claim 2: “Jeremy Corbyn has said he would disband MI5”
BBC News has asked the Conservatives for the evidence behind this claim, and is still awaiting a response. Labour has denied that Jeremy Corbyn wants to disband MI5.
The claim may relate to a campaign in 2015, run by a group called Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory, which issued a statement with a number of demands including “disband MI5”.
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is still listed as a signatory on that website. He did admit to signing it according to press reports, though he claimed to have done so in error, and did not support disbanding MI5.
Current shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott signed a parliamentary motion in 1989 calling for the abolition of MI5, but has since changed her views.
Claim 3: “We have a Queen’s Speech that was blocked by Parliament.”
In fact the Queen’s Speech was passed by 16 votes on 24 October.
Claim 4: The government was already moving to stop automatic early release
Mr Johnson said: “I also said in August that we would no longer allow the automatic early release of serious and violent offenders. And what we are doing now, is there is a bill that was in the Queen’s Speech to prevent automatic early release.”
The Queen’s Speech included a Sentencing Bill, which would change “the automatic release point from halfway to the two-thirds point for adult offenders serving sentences of four years or more for serious violent or sexual offences”.
Offenders considered “dangerous” already receive an Extended Determinate Sentence, of which around 250 were imposed last year. They are not considered for release until they have served two-thirds of their sentences.
Claim 5: The largest NHS investments in modern memory
Boris Johnson said: “…we are so determined to make huge investments in the NHS. The largest in modern memory. £34bn.”
The Conservatives’ plans do involve increasing funding for the NHS in England in cash terms by £34bn. However, accounting for inflation, the real increase would be £20.5bn by 2023-24.
At a 3.2% annual increase, it is less than the 6% average achieved by Labour governments between 1997 and 2010, according to the Health Foundation.
And most of that extra spending was already announced by the government before the election. The Conservative manifesto only pledges to increase health spending in 2023-24 by £2.9bn – just a third of one per centage point more than was already planned, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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