A number of Tory MPs have been hit with a sudden case of 'dyscalculia' (a severe difficulty in making arithmetical calculations) over the past few weeks.
The condition appears to flair up when they’re discussing the number of coronavirus tests carried out in the UK – particularly when it comes to the number of actual people who have been tested.
The former Brexit secretary Steve Barclay is the latest Tory politician to experience a momentary confusion over numbers.
Appearing on BBC One’s Question Time on Thursday, Barclay announced that Wednesday had seen the “highest ever level” of tests carried out for coronavirus and that 127,000 people received a test.
But Barclay was quickly corrected by host Fiona Bruce who told him he was about 56,000 off the actual total, which was 71,600.
I think you’ll find it was 76,000 people were actually tested.
127,000 tests were carried out but 76,000 people were actually tested.
To which Barclay replied “That’s right, that’s what I mean…” before trailing off.
In fact, the actual government figures put yesterday’s testing level at 126,064 tests with 71,644 individual people receiving one.
The disparity between the two figures is because the government is counting people who received more than one test in the total of tests carried out.
That decision is why eyebrows were raised when Matt Hancock announced that the April deadline of 100,000 tests a day had been met on 30 April.
In reality, only 73,191 people had been tested.
Questions are still being raised over whether the government has managed to test 100,000 people a day even once yet.
Barclay’s performance did nothing to quell concern over a lack of transparency surrounding the coronavirus response from the Tories.
Piers Morgan, who’s been a thorn in the government’s side over his insistent questioning of their coronavirus strategy, called Barclay’s comments “incredible” and said the government “must be held to account”.
Others criticised “meaningless targets” that couldn’t even be met.
There was even a tax-based analogy.
Maybe they can start administering lie detector tests for Tory ministers and releasing those totals every day.