BBC Question Time Audience Could Not Stop Laughing At Minister’s Response To Economic Woes

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Fiona Bruce and climate minister Graham Stuart
Fiona Bruce and climate minister Graham Stuart

BBC Question Time’s audience could not stop breaking out into laughter when a government minister refused to answer one simple question about the UK’s economy.

Climate minister Graham Stuart was in the hot seat on Thursday night, shortly after official statistics revealed the UK is in a technical recession – meaning the country experienced negative economic growth for the latter half of the year.

This news was yet another blow to the beleaguered PM Rishi Sunak, as growing the economy was one of his five pledges for 2023.

Asked if the government is failing in its pledge to grow the economy, Stuart dodged the question. He said: “The answer to that is we made the top priority, as this audience knows, inflation.”

A wave of giggles went around the room at that point – reducing inflation was just one of the five pledges, and the only Sunak successfully fulfilled.

Stuart continued: “Inflation was at 11% a year ago, we said we would halve that, it’s now down to 4%.”

Host Fiona Bruce interrupted, and repeated the main question: “Has the government failed to meet yet another pledge on growing the economy – has it, or hasn’t it?”

As Stuart hesitated, the audience burst into laughter.

He paused, smiled, and said: “The economy went into technical recession.”

Bruce groaned in exasperation at that, while fellow panel member Labour’s Lucy Powell cut in to say the Conservatives “just change the goalposts.”

As the panel continued to talk over each other, Bruce pushed once again: “So the answer is, the government has failed to meet this pledge?”

Stuart said: “It has not grown the economy in the last…” – the audience started to laugh again before he could finish his sentence.

“So to that extent, it has failed its pledge,” he finally admitted, before referring back to the government’s inflation achievements.

Bruce then asked why the government even made the pledge to grow the economy in the first place.

The minister replied: “Because it’s all about making the conditions for the long-term growth of the economy.

“That’s what we’re about. We have a plan to do that, inflation is down 4% and we want to go further.”

One audience member later said it was clear the government has failed on the majority of its pledges, so “why not end this horror show now and call a general election?”

Applause broke out across the room at that.