Leaders debates: Rishi Sunak skewered over NHS waiting lists as audience laughs out loud at his maths fail

"Waiting lists were 7.2 million, they're now 7.5 million and he says they're coming down. And this is a guy who says he's good at maths."

Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak in the leaders debate

The first head to head debate between Labour leader Keir Starmer and Tory leader Rishi Sunak took place this evening. The debate took place in Manchester and was broadcast on ITV.

The second question in the debate was on the state of the NHS. During their responses to the question, Sunak and Starmer sparred over the state of waiting lists.

Sunak claimed “the waiting lists are coming down”, leading Starmer to interject: “Hang on, waiting lists were 7.2 million, they’re now 7.5 million and he says they’re coming down. And this is a guy who says he’s good at maths.”

Starmer’s comments triggered laughter from the audience, before Sunak said “They are now coming down. They are now coming down.”

Starmer then responded: “7.2 when you said you’d get them down – 7.2 million – they’re now 7.5 million. I’d like you to explain how they’re coming down.”

Looking confused and uncomfortable, Sunak then said: “Because they’re coming down from where they were when they were higher, and they’re now on their way down. They are down.”

That received a wave of laughs from the audience in the studio.

Later, Sunak blamed industrial action in the NHS for long waiting lists, leading to audible groans from members of the audience.

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

Comments are closed.