Burying Bad News? Immigration Figures, Future Of BBC And Suliman Gani Apology. Must Be End Of Term

No sign of a promised Syria update either

12/05/2016 11:34 | Updated 12 May 2016
Steve Parsons/PA Wire

The Government is under fire for trying to 'bury' embarrassing figures revealing the true scale of inward migration ahead of the EU referendum - amid a series of controversial announcements were made at the 'end of term'.

The Office for National Statistics today published a report explaining why more National Insurance numbers have been given out to EU citizens than are accounted for in official statistics.

The statistical body's explanation was simple: NI numbers are higher due to people who come for less than a year. The difference - the gap between the orange and blue lines below - in 2015 was 432,000.


The ONS sums its findings up here: 


Nonetheless, 'Brexit' campaigning MPs called an urgent question in the Commons - and turned their fire on the statistical wonks.

Critics said releasing it today meant the Government, which wants Britain to stay in the EU, will clash with a major announcement on the future of the BBC.

Meanwhile, a big row over referendum TV debates has broken out - providing further cover for ministers over immigration.

Vote Leave, the officially designated 'Out' campaign, is furious that ITV has chosen Ukip's Nigel Farage to be go head-to-head with David Cameron on ITV. Farage backs a rival 'Leave' campaign. Details were released at 10pm last night.

The figures are also published on the "last day of term" before the end of the Parliamentary session - known as "prorogation".

As such, 13 written parliamentary statements were published today, with a rash of stories likely to emerge. Who knew the Ministry of Defence had an art collection?


Among those 13 was the Government's response to an independent that found the vulnerable young people in secure training centres are being failed by a system that is not fit for purpose.

The Ministry of Justice confirmed it will be taking over the Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent, run by G4S, following allegations of abuse.

Governments of very stripe have the habit of “taking out the trash” on busy news days.

It is a device well-known to political observers, and recalls the Government special adviser Jo Moore who sent an email on September 11 suggesting it was a “good day to bury bad news”.

The process appeared to begin last night when the Downing Street published an apology from the Prime Minister to Suliman Gani for labelling the Muslim cleric a supporter of ISIS as part of a campaign to link now London mayor Sadiq Khan to extremism. A statement was released at 9pm last night. And today, Cameron made a brief apology to Parliament.

There is also the prospect of failing to make difficult announcements previously promised.

Last week, the Leader of the House, Chris Grayling, told MPs that ministers will "provide a quarterly update on Syria" before prorogation. It has not materialised.

Labour's Chris Bryant, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, told HuffPost UK: "The government should have stood by its word and made sure the public and the House were told about the ongoing situation in Syria.  Only last week Grayling promised this statement so we have to ask what are they hiding.

"This is a shoddy way to treat parliament and ignores the wishes of the public and the promises the government made to them. British servicemen and women are on active service in Syria for their country so the minimum the government should be doing is keeping the country updated."

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