The RSS has stepped into the public stand-off between the foreign secretary Boris Johnson and the UK Statistics Authority chair, Sir David Norgrove, after Sir David rebuked Johnson over revisiting the ‘£350m per week’ figure that was such a focal point of last year’s referendum campaign.
Last year, the then UKSA chair Sir Andrew Dilnot said the figure, famously written on the Leave campaign’s tour bus, was ‘potentially misleading’ (PDF).
Johnson used the figure again in a recent article in The Telegraph where he set out his vision for Brexit, saying ‘we will take back control of roughly £350 million per week’. On 17 September Sir David wrote a letter, in which he stated Johnson’s use of the figure was a ‘clear misuse of official statistics’. Johnson responded saying Sir David’s words were ‘wilfully distorting’.
RSS executive director Hetan Shah was invited to comment on the debate on several political programmes including Sky News and the BBC's Daily Politics. In The Guardian and The Times he expressed concern that a senior minister was clashing with the statistical regulator in this way. He also told Buzzfeed that Norgrove’s intervention should be seen in the context that ‘he’s trying to help clear up this longstanding misunderstanding around the numbers’.
According to The Guardian, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) has been called upon by Welsh Labour MP, Paul Flynn, to summon Boris Johnson and David Norgrove to give evidence over their dispute.