Election 2017: Michael Gove bungles immigration figures twice in live radio interview

Former Education Secretary falls into the same trap as Diane Abbott as he struggles to explain the Conservatives' immigration policy

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Indy Politics

Michael Gove has suffered an all-too-familiar form of humiliation for prominent politicians after he muddled up his numbers twice in an interview on live radio

The backbencher and former Conservative leadership candidate was being quizzed about the Tory manifesto on LBC when he struggled to explain the rise in the Immigration Skills Charge – a levy imposed on every organisation which employs a non-EU skilled worker. 

The Conservatives have promised to double the cost of the charge, which was introduced last month, from £1,000 per year to £2,000 per year and invest in technical skills education.

The move is part of the party’s central pledge to “reduce and control immigration”.

But the former Education Secretary came unstuck when he could not remember how much the charge was currently and how much it would rise to. 

He eventually settled on a figure of £2,000 per year currently, and said it would then rise to £4,000 per year.

Presenter Nick Ferrari accused Mr Gove of hypocrisy by saying: “You're lecturing me about the benefits of increasing the charge, and you don't know what the charge is?”

He then asked the politician if the Government had any realistic chance of reducing immigration “to the tens of thousands” as they had promised to do this in the 2010 manifesto and failed.

Mr Gove claimed that was because they could not control the number of people arriving from the European Union and that this would change after Brexit. 

But he was then unable to accurately say just how many non-EU immigrants had arrived in the country in the past year

He claimed that it was “over 200,000” but Mr Ferrari quickly corrected him, pointing out the correct figure was 169,000.

The presenter then corrected him on the immigration skills charge and commented that Mr Gove was “not very well prepared by [his] standards”.

This is not the first time a politician has fallen foul of Mr Ferrari during the general election campaign.

Earlier this month, shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott suffered through a “car crash” interview where she appeared to suggest an additional 10,000 police officers introduced by Labour would be paid just £30 a year each.

She gave several estimates for how much the Labour party’s plan for policing would cost if they were to win the election on 8 June ranging from £300,000 to £80m.

Ms Abbott also mixed up the number of officers they said they would recruit, accidentally saying it would be 250,000 rather than 25,000.