I am the victim of a fabricated campaign by Sky News to attack me over things that I did not say. This is immediately clear to anyone who takes the time to watch my interview in full instead of the manipulated clip and factually inaccurate rolling news headlines and tweets, or any of the statements I have made to the media about this important issue. 

It is an unfortunate and cynical feature of the news and media landscape. They seek to distort and manipulate in the interests of generating hate and outrage. It is very effective and has resulted in a torrent of hate and abuse, including death threats. It is also a huge distraction from dealing with the very real demands my constituents face. Sky News and other media outlets approach is irresponsible and unprofessional in the extreme. Not a single media outlet bothered to fact check what I had actually said. Instead they amplified the nonsense that Sky News broadcasted. 

On the real issue, the cost of living, I am acutely aware of the impact of rising global food and energy prices which are a result of the Covid pandemic aftershocks and the war in Ukraine. My team and I are doing everything we can to support people at this time including signposting people to help available for very challenging personal household budgets. 

During the interview on Sky News I was very clear about the impact on people which I understand from my work as your MP. I gave this answer when I was asked the question by the presenter and spoke about all the immediate help that is available for the family who were on the programme. These include a £22 billion package of support the Government is providing, including help with Council Tax, energy bills, increases to the National Living Wage and a Household Support Fund. I was also clear that nothing is off the table and that the Chancellor, Prime Minister and Government are looking at all possible options to go further than this support. 

However, it is clear that the Government cannot always protect everyone from every single impact of a global problem. That is why in the long-term, we are building a high wage, high skilled economy. We believe that it is important to help people to help themselves, and that that is what most people want to do. For some people, they may aspire to retrain to a job that pays higher wages. Others may be working part time and be looking for full time work. Saying that this is an option for some people is a completely different thing to saying that everybody should do this right now. I would hope that if you have read my email in full you will agree with this reasonable statement. What Sky did was take this comment and pretend that I said people should do this. 

To be clear at no stage did I say – and I do not believe – that every single person worried about the cost of living should take on more hours or move to a better paid job. Once you read the transcript from the interview it is very clear that I did not say that. Here is the transcript:

Rachel: “We understand and we know the impact that rising energy bills and the cost of food are having on families like yours all over the country. We very much do need to make sure that the support is going to those families, the support packages that we’ve already put in place. We’ve already taken action to help people with energy bills, and there’s more help coming.

“And I think the other point that is really important that families can take account of is that we have put money into those local communities who often know better than we do in central government where the need is.

“Local authorities, local areas, have got a Household Support Fund – that is available for families who’ve got individual circumstances. They might be struggling, and I would definitely recommend any family who is feeling the pinch at this time to approach their local authority and see what help is on offer.

I went on to say:

Rachel: “Over the long term we need to have a plan to grow the economy and make sure that people are able to protect themselves better – whether that is by taking on more hours or moving to a better paid job and these are long term actions but that’s what we’re focused on as a Government.

Kay Burley (presenter): “You say taking on more hours. Some people I’ve been chatting to Minister over the last hours… you know some people are working three jobs. They’re working every hour that god sends them, and they’re still going to foodbanks to get food because they can’t afford to feed their kids, so it’s not as straight forward as that is it?

Rachel: “No, and of course it’s not. I’m not suggesting that for one moment, but we have often heard in the past when people are facing problems with their budgets that one of the obstacles – and it may not be for everybody – is about being able to take on more hours or even move to a better-paid job.

“Of course, it’s an individual situation, depending on that particular family’s situation but that’s why the Job Centres exist, that’s why the work coaches exist, that’s why we’ve put the support into those Job Centres – to work with individuals on their own individual situation.

“It may be right for some people, they may be able to access additional hours, but of course its not going to work for people who are already working in three jobs.

“And that’s why we need to have the other measures in place such as all the help we’re putting into schools, the local authority help and support that I’ve already mentioned and these are where we’re going to target the help where it is most needed.”

The Job Centres and work coaches are a service provided by the Government along with access to skills training, help with childcare and many other pathways. These are options that the work coaches will help people with depending on their individual aspirations and their individual situation. Everybody is different and the help is tailored. 

I and my team have first-hand experience of how well they help people, and they have changed people’s lives and helped them into work and into new roles. But of course, this is not on the news. 

These threats and abuse are all part of the daily barrage that all MPs have to deal with. I try to ignore it, get on with my job as your MP and Home Office Minister, and focus on helping people which is what I got into politics to do. 

Sky News crossed a line from holding me to account to creating a fiction. At the same time as orchestrating this abuse they will be loudly complaining about the quality of politicians today – or even more ironically urging us all to be kinder to each other and look after our mental health.  Is it any wonder that good people are put off from serving their country and community when they see what we are subjected to?

I do not expect you to feel sorry for me, that is not my intention. But the treatment received this week needs to be called out. I can be held to account without my life being threatened.