Tory minister caught out over '50,000 nurses' manifesto claim in car-crash interview

Will Taylor
News Reporter

A Conservative Party manifesto pledge came under fire on Monday as a top Tory minister was accused of exaggerating the scale of nurse recruitment.

Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan was forced to defend the claim on Good Morning Britain that a Conservative government will recruit 50,000 nurses for the NHS in coming years.

She got into a debate over how the increase would be calculated, with hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid pointing out that 18,500 of the nurses included in the figure already worked for the NHS.

Ms Morgan said: “There will be, overall – and we are very, very clear on this – 50,000 more nurses if you look in 10 years’ time than there are today.”

But when hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid pressed her on the fact that existing nurses are included in the figure – because the government wants to persuade them to stay in the NHS – Ms Morgan claimed again that retaining nurses counted as new hires.

She said the NHS has “got highly skilled staff we do not want to leave and if we are able to persuade them and to encourage them to stay, that is good news for nursing care in this country”.

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Her response was ridiculed by Ms Reid, who said Ms Morgan’s claim was the equivalent of Good Morning Britain saying there would be three new presenters the following day but instead the same three presented it.

The exchange comes as fact-checking orgainsation Full Fact took aim at the Tories’ manifesto, which was released on Sunday, amid repeated questions as to how trustworthy Boris Johnson is.

Full Fact said the Conservatives had not explained how some of their key pledges would be financed, despite Chancellor Sajid Javid promising the “most transparent costings” in British electoral history.

Boris Johnson unveiled the Tory manifesto on Sunday but has faced questions over its promises. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

“While the Conservatives plan to increase annual current spending by £3 billion compared to what’s already been announced, the Conservatives plan to spend a lot more than £3 billion extra per year than we spend today,” said Full Fact.

“For example, the Conservative manifesto spending list omits its headline pledges on school funding, the NHS, and (creating 20,000 more) police officers.”

Boris Johnson has been laughed at in debates when he has insisted the truth is important.