James O’Brien amused by Rishi Sunak's response to Labour's Stephen Timms correction at PMQs

3 May 2023, 15:47

James O'Brien amused by Labour MP correcting Sunak

By Alice Bourne

After Rishi Sunak claimed to be 'clarifying' comments that had been corrected by Labour MP Stephen Timms, James O'Brien insisted that it was not a clarification, but an absolute correction by the Prime Minister.

James O’Brien said during PMQs the Labour MP made “an absolute correction of something that had been put before the House of Commons that was absolutely false".

This was after Rishi Sunak had tried to argue that there are "record-breaking numbers of people in work”.

MP Stephen Timms, someone who James O’Brien described as “really quite forensic, [and] a very big fan of detail”, called out Rishi Sunak’s statement saying: “The Prime Minister referred to ‘record numbers of people in work’, in fact as he knows the number of people in work at the moment is less than it was just before the pandemic.”

Elaborating on this Mr Timms said: “122,792 less according to the latest official figures- will he reassure the house that he’s not slipping into the bad ways of his predecessor and will he properly correct the incorrect statement he made last week.”

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James O’Brien agreed that this slip-up was reminiscent of Boris Johnson: “This is quite an interesting reflection on something I think Boris Johnson used to say a lot and Rishi Sunak said last week.”

During PMQs, Rishi Sunak responded: “Mr Speaker that clarification has already been made in Hansard but there are a near record number of people in work and in payroll and that is thanks to the actions of this government Mr Speaker and one we’re very proud of.”

Somewhat amused, James said: “You can’t do that! You can’t say 'We’ve got record-breaking numbers' and then say ’n-n-n-o as a clarification we’ve got near record-breaking numbers.'

“I mean, we’ve got record-breaking numbers or we’ve not got record-breaking numbers. That’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Read More: Rishi Sunak is 'doubling down on the sins of Boris Johnson', an impassioned Ed Miliband declares

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