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Boris Johnson admits only 31,000 of Tories' 50,000 'more' nurses are actually new

Labour's Jonathan Ashworth accuses PM of 'lying' over the figures

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 08 December 2019 09:59 GMT
Boris Johnson admits only 31,000 of Tories' 50,000 'more' nurses are actually new

Boris Johnson has publicly admitted that only 31,000 of Tories’ 50,000 “more” nurses pledge for the NHS will actually be new recruits.

Questioned on the Conservative manifesto pledge to deliver “50,000 more nurses” – and how many would be new recruits to the health service – he said: “Yes, 31,000 is the answer to that.”

After unveiling the commitment last month, party sources confirmed the figure includes an estimated 18,500 existing nurses who will be encouraged to remain within the NHS, or attracted back after leaving.

The recruitment plan also included 14,000 new nursing places, 5,000 nursing apprenticeships and an attempt to recruit 12,500 nursing professionals from abroad.

Quizzed on the pledge, the prime minister admitted for the first time publicly just 31,000 of the “more nurses” pledge would be new.

Pressed by Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on the issues, the prime minister added: "I have explained this many times so far. It is very important, the problem we have in the NHS is there are 19,000 nurses who would leave the system unless we put the investment in now and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Mr Johnson continued: “What we are saying is that we would be down by 19,000 if we hadn’t put this investment in, we’re going to have 31,000 new. As a result of the investment we’re making we’ll have 50,000 more nurses. We are also going to have, as I say, 40 new hospitals, 20 hospital upgrades and 6000 more GPs.”

Responding Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, “You’ve caught him out on the fact he’s not delivering 50,000 extra nurses – didn’t you? He had to admit because you put him under pressure it’s only 31,000. So again, that was a lie.”

During the interview the prime minister also repeatedly refused to say whether he would resign if the Conservatives fail to win a majority at the general election in four days’ time.

The prime minister's high-stakes decision to call the snap vote could hand Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Number 10 - making Mr Johnson one of the shortest-serving PMs in British history.

But, in an interview with Sky's Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he would not be drawn on his political future when asked three times if he would stand down if he fails to secure a majority.

The PM admitted he was nervous and "fighting for every vote" ahead of the poll, but when asked if he would resign if it did not go his way, he replied: "The choice on Thursday is unbelievably stark, it's between going forward with a one nation Conservative government that can get Brexit done...

"Or spending the whole of next year in complete paralysis with two referendums, one on Scotland, one on the EU when Jeremy Corbyn cannot even tell us what his position is on Brexit and who is going to campaign for the deal that he proposes to do."

Pressed again, Mr Johnson said: "If you don't mind, Sophy, what I'm going to do is concentrate on the five days before us because that is what I think the people of this country would expect.

"We have got a very short time to get our message across, it's a message of hope and optimism about this country."

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