Andrew Marr has called out Boris Johnson for “saying something that isn’t true” when discussing wages during an interview.
As the Conservative Party conference kicked off in Manchester today, Marr was in Salford to grill the Prime Minister on a number of topics including women’s safety after the murder of Sarah Everard, the HGV shortage, and increasing taxes.
Another area that was discussed was wages, and Johnson was keen to get the message across that they are increasing.
He told Marr: “What you’re also seeing is finally growth in wages, after more than 10 years of flat-lining what you’re seeing is people on low incomes being paid more and by the way, here an example -”
However, Marr interrupted Johnson to challenge him on this point.
“– Can I come directly to that, because you’ve said something that isn’t true I’m afraid, you’ve said something that isn’t true about wages -”
Though Johnson quickly responded and remained insistent that they were.
“- Wages are growing,” he replied.
But Marr didn’t stop there and referred to data from the Office of National Statistic.
He said: “The Office of National Statistics, the ONS, your our own body, in the last reporting period – the three months running to July – says that wages are not keeping pace with inflation.
“So in other words, in real terms, over the last three months, wages have gone down, not up.”
As Marr continued talking, Johnson appeared to be shaking his head in disagreement, to which Marr responded: “You’re shaking your head but these are ONS government figures.”
But Johnson refused to relent and replied: “No, wages are finally going up for the low paid and they’re going up faster by the way than they are for those on high incomes and about time too.”
“Well, that’s not what the numbers are showing,” Marr remarked.
“That is what the numbers are showing,” Johnson hit back. “And it’s about time we had that in this country – wages have been totally flatlining for more than a decade and what we would rather do is help people into better paid, better-skilled jobs which is what is happening.”
Johnson then referred to the lifetime skills guarantee, the kickstart schemes, “massive investment” in FE [Futher Education] colleges.
He added: “I’d much rather see that, Andrew, than raising taxes to subsidise low pay.”
Since the exchange was aired, people were quick to criticise the prime minister for not accurately reflecting the situation with wage growth.
Deputy Labour leader, Angela Rayner reiterated Marr’s point about how the ONS figures contradict Johnson’s claim.
Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy described Johnson’s claim as “an insult to families facing petrol shortages, rising prices and falling wages this winter.”
Alistair Campbell praised Marr for calling out Johnson’s claim, tweeting: “This should happen every time it happens.”
Daily Mirror’s Online Political Editor Dan Bloom also shared “a key chart” from the ONS, showing that it was wages dipping last year that caused a “bounce back.”
He also added a key quote from ONS who said: “It would clearly be misleading to use such large and distorted annual growth rates as an indicator of the health of the UK economy.”
Meanwhile, there were plenty of other people who praised Marr’s interview while also criticising Johnson’s response.
BBC Newsnight’s Policy Editor Lewis Goodall described how “success of Conservative self-renewal in office means that the third Conservative Prime Minister in a row can tacitly criticise the economic model/performance of his own party over a decade and it barely causes a ripple.”
This is in reference to Johnson, who said wages have been flat-lining for “more than 10 years” which is the same length of time that the Conservatives have been in power for.
While others were also quick to point out this observation too.