Rishi Sunak Has Been Slammed Over His 'Misleading' Claim To Have Cleared The Asylum Backlog

How's that "integrity, professionalism and accountability" thing working out, prime minister?
Rishi Sunak promised to lead a government of 'integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level'.
Rishi Sunak promised to lead a government of 'integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level'.
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Rishi Sunak has been criticised by a top watchdog after wrongly claiming to have cleared the asylum backlog.

The UK Statistics Authority said “people may feel misled” by the claim, which the prime minister made on X (formerly Twitter) earlier this month.

They also said the controversy “may affect public trust” in claims made by the government.

In the social media post - which has not been taken down - the PM wrote: “I said that this government would clear the backlog of asylum decisions by the end of 2023. That’s exactly what we’ve done.”

But Downing Street was forced to admit that 4,500 “complex cases” remain outstanding - on top of 99,000 more recent claims which have yet to be processed.

Humiliatingly for the PM, a community note was added to his post with the message “the backlog has not been cleared” and a link to a BBC report confirming the target has not been met.

Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael and Labour’s shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock both wrote to the UKSA asking them to investigate.

In a letter sent to both men today, the watchdog’s chair, Sir Robert Chote, condemned the government’s use of official data.

He said: “The average member of the public is likely to interpret a claim to have ‘cleared a backlog’ – especially when presented without context on social media – as meaning that it has been eliminated entirely, so it is not surprising that the government’s claim has been greeted with scepticism and that some people may feel misled when these ‘hard cases’ remain in the official estimates of the legacy backlog.”

Sir Robert added: “This episode may affect public trust when the government sets targets and announces whether they have been met in the other policy domains.

“It highlights the need for ministers and advisers to think carefully about how a reasonable person would interpret a quantitative claim of the sort and to consult the statistical professionals in their department.”

Carmichael said: “Not only is the Government celebrating something that is no achievement, they are twisting the facts, as proven by the UK Stats Authority just today. As this letter again shows, the Conservatives have not cleared the asylum backlog. The British public deserves better than this.”


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