A LABOUR peer has come under fire for spreading “completely untrue guff” after claiming his “spies” had provided him with intel about Nicola Sturgeon’s political tactics.

George Foulkes, who served as a minister in Tony Blair’s Labour government and later as an MSP, took to social media to claim he’d heard that the First Minister “instructed” SNP Westminster chief Ian Blackford to abstain on England’s Health and Social Care Bill vote – therefore allowing the Conservatives to win. In reality, Blackford and most of his MPs did indeed turn out to vote aginst the proposals.

Despite Boris Johnson’s 80-seat majority, the vote was tight with 19 Conservatives rebelling against the Government, and dozens of Tory MPs failing to vote. The final tally was 272 votes for vs 246 against, a majority of just 26.

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The change to social care reform in England has been heavily criticised, with MPs warned it will hit the poorest people in the most vulnerable regions the hardest.

On Monday night, Conservative ministers were unable to say whether the change to the £86,000 cap on care costs – where only personal contributions will count for people who receive financial support from a local authority for some of their care – would fulfil an election pledge to guarantee no-one would have to sell their home to pay for care.

Following the vote, the life peer took to Twitter to write: “If SNP MPs had voted tonight they could have protected poor pensioners in England. Why did they abstain?

“My spies tell me [Ian Blackford] was instructed by [Nicola Sturgeon] to abstain on the Social Care vote last night thus saving the Tory government from defeat.”

The National:

Despite Foulkes’s claim, 31 of the 45 SNP MPs turned out to vote down the proposals – including their Westminster leader Blackford.

The National also understands that SNP MPs were told specifically to go and vote on the social care reforms.

“After a 12 hour period to actually check the voting records, the unelected Baron instead doubles down on untruths. Pathetic,” wrote SNP MP for Kilmarnock and Loudon Alan Brown.

Owen Thompson, who represents Midlothian for the party and also voted down the clause changing the social care reform, added: “This is entirely untrue. SNP MP's did vote. Pay attention George!”

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Fraser MacDonald, who works in comms for the SNP, drew Foulkes’s attention towards Blackford’s recorded vote.

“Lord Foulkes should think before he shares completely untrue guff next time…” he commented.

After receiving the criticism online, Lord Foulkes told The National: "I've given my humble and abject apologies to every SNP MP I've seen today and explained I was misled by reports in the media. I now understand that 31 of their 45 members voted. I should know by now not to accept media reports as accurate."

Asked if he would issue an update to his original tweet, Foulkes said he had already posted a clarification. This took the form of a tweet to SNP MP Chris Stephens, which can only be viewed by going into the "tweets and replies" section of his profile. The initial claim has been retweeted more than 100 times.

He added: "I've now spoken personally to Ian Blackford and apologised for the misunderstanding. He says he quite understands and accepts my explanation and apology."

The SNP have been contacted for comment.