5 Fibs You Were Told This Week

Chris York
·Senior Editor, HuffPost UK
·6-min read
(Photo: POOL New / Reuters)
(Photo: POOL New / Reuters)

While many of you are rightfully concerned about shortages of toilet roll, here at HuffPost UK we’re more worried there aren’t enough superlatives in the English language to cope with 2020.

The supply of such words that were not already overused before last week took an absolute pounding with the news Donald Trump had contracted coronavirus.

The latest bombshell revelation to rock the year led to the mournful conclusion that we’re close to just having had enough of news.

And that before we even consider some of the absolutely insane reaction to Trump’s diagnosis.

Was it a Chinese assassination attempt?

Will the virus survive Donald Trump?

And why doesn’t Joe Biden go out and lick some door handles in the White House?

Of course the answer to all these questions is “holy shit America, please can you just get a grip and stop being so utterly mad”.

Anyhoos, back to our regular programming...

The great gift of austerity

Chancellor Rishi Sunak this week claimed a decade of austerity had helped the government deal with the huge economic impact of coronavirus.

The chancellor said the divisive policy pursued by David Cameron was “absolutely the right thing to do” in response to the 2008 financial crisis, and meant the government was in a good position to respond to Covid-19.

This is a fib. Quite a big one in fact. And here’s why.

In October 2019, an extensive report two years in the making placed the US and the UK first and second respectively in a global ranking of countries’ pandemic preparedness.

Even more impressively, Britain led the world in a sub-section on a country’s ability to respond rapidly and halt the spread of of devastating diseases.

But clearly this hasn’t helped one jot as evidenced by the fact we’re the worst-hit country in Europe.

And this is because the despite high scores elsewhere, the UK scored abysmally in a section which looked at how well a country can actually implement the plans it has.

One of the report’s authors, Priya Bapat of the Economist Intelligence Unit, told HuffPost UK: “When you look at high income European countries, the UK has the lowest doctors per capita than any of those countries except for Poland.

“There’s been huge underinvestment in the NHS and that’s shown itself in the number of health care workers per capita.”

This underinvestment has of course been thanks to a decade of austerity under a Conservative government.

The government random fib generator careers test quiz

Rishi Sunak caused a bit of an uproar this week when he suggested musicians, actors and artists whose work had been affected by Covid should consider “fresh and new opportunities”.

In order to find out exactly where one should focus their energies during their upcoming careers search, the government helpfully set up a little personality quiz of sorts.

Less helpfully, it appeared to be mostly useless as our political editor Paul Waugh found out.

Boris Johnson’s windy revolution

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson pledged that every home in the country will be powered by offshore wind within 10 years, whilst mocking those who had previously doubted the technology.

Yet it’s hardly a secret that the PM himself has spent years campaigning against it, writing in 2013 that it couldn’t “pull the skin off a rice pudding”.

Instead, Johnson has constantly advocated shale gas as the means to power Britain and avoid relying on energy imports.

Shale gas has since failed to take off but Johnson never failed to grasp an opportunity to knock renewable energy.

Later in 2013, he wrote a column for The Sun on Sunday titled “Turbines won’t do job.. let’s go nuclear,” in which he described wind farms as a “disease” that have blighted Britain’s countryside and the UK should instead, you guessed it, embrace fracking.

“It is a good 20 years since I last drove all the way to Scotland and in the interim something unbelievable has been done — in our name — to our green, pleasant and precious countryside. I mean the windmills, the turbines… whatever they are called,” he wrote.

“I mean the things that look like some hideous Venusian invasion, marching over the moors and destroying the dales. The colossal seaside toys plonked erratically across our ancient landscape.“

The PM’s magic money tree

On Tuesday Boris Johnson said people on low incomes will receive £500 a week from the government if they have to self-isolate. Wowsers.

Only it’s not true. Under the policy, it is a one-off payment of £500 for the entire 14-day period.

This by itself my seem like a relatively insignificant fib but is actually just one of many times the government has appeared confused by its own policies.

Last week the PM was forced to apologise as the government’s handling of local lockdown measures in north-east England descended into farce.

And if that wasn’t enough, here are a load more.

Aaaaaand finally...

There are a multitude of potential entries for this week’s US mention, but we’ve decided to go with one from Eric Trump, who continues to maintain a perfect record in never saying anything remotely useful in public during his entire time on earth.

This week he claimed during a radio interview in North Dakota that his father “literally saved Christianity”.

How did he do this? We literally have no idea and neither does Eric.

The claim can be tallied up beside the Trump family’s other baseless self-proclaimed achievements, which include saving Christmas and Thanksgiving from the nonexistent “wars” they claim are being waged against the holidays.

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5 Fibs You Were Told This Week

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.