Boris Johnson has repeated a claim in the House of Commons about Labour’s Lisa Nandy that was ruled “inaccurate” by the independent press regulator in June.
In an exchange with the opposition deputy leader, Angela Rayner, the prime minister said yesterday: “I think the Rt. Hon. Lady actually wanted to abolish the army” and “she wanted to abolish the army, the woman sitting next to her, Mr Speaker”. Ms Nandy was beside Ms Rayner on the front bench at the time.
In December 2020, the shadow foreign secretary appeared at the online launch event for a report by Open Labour, a so-called “soft left” campaigning group affiliated to the party, which proposed what it called “a progressive foreign policy for new times”.
In January 2021, the Sun newspaper published an article headlined “Labour’s Lisa Backs Scrap Army Report”, and an online piece titled “Liability Lisa: Labour’s Lisa Nandy in fresh ‘woke’ row over abolishing Army and ‘reconsidering’ Britain’s nuclear sub fleet”.
The following month, Open Labour complained to the press watchdog, IPSO, about the Sun’s coverage.
In June, the regulator found that “there was a breach of Clause 1(i)” of the Editor’s Code, which relates to accuracy.
IPSO wrote: “the headline claims that the pamphlet called for the armed forces to be “scrap[ped]” and “abolish[ed]” gave the strong impression that it had proposed getting rid of the traditional military entirely.”
“This was inaccurate”, the watchdog said, “as the pamphlet clearly stated that the proposed human security force would still retain a military element and that military force may still need to be used for defensive or other limited purposes.”
We contacted Downing Street to ask why Mr Johnson repeated the claim in the Commons today. We’ve yet to hear back, but we’ll update this article if we do.