Boris Johnson mocks Keir Starmer’s desperate plea on schools in scathing PMQs swipe

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Boris Johnson urged the Labour Party leader to make up his mind on whether he supports pupils staying home until September or not. Sir Keir Starmer challenged the Government’s U-turn after the Secretary of Education admitted not all primary school students would be able to head back to class before the autumn. But Mr Johnson insisted he had discussed the plans with Sir Keir, which led the Prime Minister to shut down his opponent: “As I’ve told the House before, I’ve been in contact with the Right Honourable Gentleman by a modern device called the telephone in which we tried to agree to a way forward which he then seems to deviate from later on.

Last week he was telling the House it was not safe yet to send the kinds back to school.

“This week he’s saying not enough kids are going back to school. I really think he needs to make up his mind.”

The Prime Minister continued: “Since he’s so fond of these international comparisons, he should know there’s some countries in Europe where no primary school kids are going back to school.

“And we are being extremely cautious in our approach, we are following the plan that we set out and I think the people of this country will want to follow it.

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And all the evidence shows 97 percent of the schools that have submitted data are seeing kids come back to school.

“What I would like to hear from the honourable gentleman is a bit of support for that and a bit of encouragement to some of his friends in the left-wing trade unions to get the schools ready”

But Keir Starmer denied he had discussed his views on the reopening of schools in a phone call with Mr Johnson or in other one-on-one meetings recently.

Sir Keir said: “The Prime Minister and I have never discussed our letter in any phone calls. He knows it and I know it.

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“The task force has never been the subject of a conversation between him and me one-on-one or in any other circumstance on the telephone.

“He knows it, so please drop that. Secondly, he mentions other countries – plenty of other countries are getting their children back to school.

He added: “Wales is an example across Europe, there are other examples.

“We’re the outlier on this, and it’s no good the Prime Minister flailing around to blame others.”

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Gavin Williamson said on Tuesday the Government had concluded not all schools would be able to implement the necessary social distancing rules to have pupils back before the summer break.

Addressing the Commons, Mr Williamson said: “We continue to follow the best scientific advice and believe that this cautious, phased return is the most sensible course of action to take.

“While we are not able to welcome all primary children back for a full month before the summer we continue to work with the sector on the next steps where we would like to see schools who have the capacity to bring back more children in those smaller class sizes.

“To do so, if they are able to, before the summer holidays.

“We will be working to bring all children back to school in September.”

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