No firm date for stopping the boats, admits Rishi Sunak

He was also repeatedly asked why his Government was not revealing the overall estimated costs of the Rwanda deportation plan, with flights still yet to take off. 

The Government is planning for the scheme to run for five years, but ministers are only revealing the estimated costs once a year, an approach defended by Mr Sunak.

On NHS waiting lists, which continue to rise, he was asked whether he agreed doctors’ strikes had made it harder to tackle the problem, and said: “Overall waiting lists obviously are impacted by industrial action. I think what we have seen in the past month or so, when there has been no industrial action, you have seen the waiting lists come down.

“The amount of elective activity that is happening in the NHS when there’s no industrial action is at record levels. So you’re right – the industrial action does have a big impact.”

Separately, it emerged that the UK Statistics Authority has reprimanded Mr Sunak for claiming in a social media post that “debt is falling”.

Debt as a proportion of GDP is actually rising, but it is forecast to fall by 2028-29, the end of the five-year forecast issued alongside last month’s Autumn Statement. 

Sir Robert Chote, the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, said in response to a letter from the Liberal Democrats: “This has clearly been a source of confusion and may have undermined trust in the Government’s use of statistics and quantitative analysis in this area.”


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