Sir Keir Starmer and the Prime Minster had a heated exchange during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) over the government’s decision to keep schools closed.
Boris Johnson told Starmer to make his mind up over whether or not he supports schools remaining closed until September or not.
Sir Keir challenged Johnson over the government’s U-turn on Tuesday, as most students will not be able to return back to school until the autumn.
Johnson tried to shut down the Labour leader and said, “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 kids 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.”
He added, “Since he’s so fond of these international comparisons, he should know there are 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.
“And all the evidence shows 97% 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.”
Sir Keir who was visibly angry, blasted Johnson in the Commons and replied, “let’s have this out” after Johnson was suggesting they had both already spoken about his school’s plan.
Sir Keir angrily added, “The Prime Minister and I have never discussed our letter in any phone call, he knows it and I know it.
“The taskforce has never been the subject of a conversation between him and me one-to-one or in any other circumstance on the telephone.
“He knows it so, please drop that.”
The Labour leader told the Commons the UK is the “outlier” when compared to other countries, where children are returning back to school,.
He told the Commons, “It’s no good the Prime Minister flailing around trying to blame others.”
He accused Johnson for not consulting the relevant parties or having any scientific backing when he made his announcement on schools in May.
He added, “It’s time he took responsibility for his own failings. This mess was completely avoidable. The consequences are stark.”
“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.”
The Prime Minister also urged Sir Keir Starmer to encourage “his friends in the left-wing trade unions” to help get schools ready.