Teacher tells Tory minister that he ‘can’t make up maths’ as he explains nurses pledge

Brandon Lewis on BBC Question Time. Photograph: BBC.

Brandon Lewis on BBC Question Time. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: Archant

A teacher has hit out at a Tory minister over the party's pledge for 50,000 more nurses in the NHS, claiming that even his eight-year-old could see through the lie.

Brandon Lewis appeared on Question Time to defend the Conservative Party pledge in its manifesto, but faced fierce criticism from the audience.

To laughter, one member of the audience asked: "If I have three apples and the Conservatives give me two more do I have five more apples?"

But he left the audience unimpressed when he said: "Depends when you started counting the five."

He continued: "We are aiming to get 32,000 new nurses. We have a problem with retention in the NHS with nurses, we want to do something about that and encourage some who have already left to come back.

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"That's the other 18,000+. That means in five years we would have 50,000 more nurses than we would otherwise have had."

The audience member was quick to point out the maths did not add up. He interrupted Lewis to say: "That's not 18,000+ more, that's 18,000+ retained.

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"You can't make up maths. What you're saying is a lie. You're lying to everyone.

"I asked my eight-year-old before I came here tonight and she knew the right answer."

The Swindon audience laughed and cheered as the teacher set him straight.

But the Tory minister was insistent he was right. He replied: "The fact is if we made no change, if we kept the status quo, we would be losing more and more nurses from the NHS, which we don't want.

"We want to retain more nurses. Actually within that figure... it's encouraging back in some who have already left.

"There will be with the changes we want to make and the extra recruitment of new nurses... 50,000 more nurses in five years' time than there would otherwise be."

Caroline Lucas said it was depressing everyone was laughing at ministers and a prime minister "insulting" the public by making stuff up.

She said that Brexit would not make the situation better for the nurses, only worse.

"You're probably going to have even fewer nurses from the EU coming into the NHS," she told him.

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