Twitter users are splitting their sides over a former UKIP MEP’s claim about birth rates

steven woolfe MEP
Andrea Needham

A former UKIP leadership hopeful has sparked hilarity on Twitter by claiming that 7 million babies are born each year in the UK. Steven Woolfe, Independent MEP for North West England, tweeted:

Woolfe’s figures equate to a yearly total of 7.4 million births (including 2.1 million to mothers not born here), and 6.3 million migrants.

Out by a factor of ten

But according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 774,849 live births in the UK in 2016. So Woolfe’s figures for total births were out by a factor of almost 10.

Of those children born in England and Wales, 26.9% were to mothers born outside the UK. This works out to fewer than two births every five minutes to mothers not born in the UK. So Woolfe was once again out by a factor of 10.

Out by a factor of 26

As for migration, the ONS reports that, for the year ending September 2017, net migration was 244,000. That works out at around 2.3 people per five minutes, meaning that Woolfe’s figure of 60 people per five minutes is out by a factor of 26.

It was predictable that Twitter would not let this go unnoticed:

“A simple mistake”

However, Woolfe was unabashed. The following afternoon, he tweeted a correction – but without deleting the original tweet.

This didn’t go down well either:

Woolfe’s original tweet was shared over 600 times. His retraction was shared fewer than 100 times. His contribution towards Theresa May’s “hostile environment” for immigrants could not be clearer.

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