Fiona Bruce calls out minister for ‘fantasy figures’ over number of coronavirus tests conducted
Business minister Nadhim Zahawi was forced to back down on his claims after incorrectly quoting the testing capacity figures instead of the actual daily tests carried out.
Zahawai was accused of producing a “fantasy figure” during the fiery debate after giving a number three times higher than government estimates.
Stratford-on-Avon MP Zahawi claimed at the start of the pandemic in March the country only had the capacity for 2,000 tests per day.
“We’re now doing 240,000 tests a day, but clearly there’s more demand,” he told viewers.
Bruce interrupted to point out: “You’re not testing 240,000 people a day.”
“240,000 antigen tests a day at the moment. We plan to increase it to 500,000 by the end of October,” the Tory politician insisted.
Bruce interrupted again: “I’m sorry. The government’s own figures, the latest figures, are that 81,000 people are being tested every day. That’s the government’s latest figures - not 240,000. That’s the capacity.”
Zahawi said: “Well, the figures that I’ve got is 240,000... is the latest figures.”
“Is what?” questioned the presenter. “The average of people being tested a day?”
The MP then admitted: “No, this is the capacity.”
“We know about the capacity but in terms of the people being tested - if you want a test, the capacity is irrelevant if you can’t get a test, it doesn’t matter what the capacity is,” said Bruce.
The system had been mocked by an audience member who asked whether the test really was “world-beating” as the prime minister had claimed.
Zahawi said: “You’re right to challenge us because we’ve got to do even better.
“Some things have got better with the latest data, so, for example, the average distance someone has to travel for a test has come down from 6.4 miles to 5.4 miles.
“But the in-person tests - where the results are then delivered within 24 hours - has also come down to 64 percent today, with the data.
“I’m not trying to hide away from the challenges,” he explained.
An audience member accused Zahawi of producing “fantasy figures”. Viewers were also equally unimpressed.
“Nadhim Zahawi blatantly lying about the number of tests being carried out. And gets BEAUTIFULLY called out by Fiona Bruce!” wrote Femi Oluwole.
Lynton Black tweeted: “Minister of the crown shows off a world-beating ability to spin objectively damning statistics. I give you Nadhim Zahawi’s Question Time car crash. Bravo!”
Peter Fleetwood said: “Fiona Bruce spot-on, unlike Nadhim Zahawi, who brazenly slides along with his forked-tongue style...”