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Fri, 3 July 2020

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By Andrew McQuillan
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Boris Johnson says he is ‘proud of our record’ on coronavirus amid clash with Keir Starmer over school reopenings

Boris Johnson says he is ‘proud of our record’ on coronavirus amid clash with Keir Starmer over school reopenings

Boris Johnson said Sir Keir Starmer should show "cooperation" with the Government (Parliamentlive.tv)

2 min read

Boris Johnson told the Commons he was “proud” of the Government’s record on coronavirus amid a row with Keir Starmer over school reopenings.

The Prime Minister accused the Labour leader of launching “endless attacks on public trust and confidence”, as the opposition claimed a letter sent to the Mr Johnson offering advice on getting schools back open had gone unanswered.

Sir Keir said at Prime Minister's Questions: "I wrote to him, as he knows, in confidence, two weeks ago to ask if I could help build a consensus for getting children back into our schools. 

“I did it confidentially and private because I did not want to make a lot of it. He hasn’t replied.”

The letter containing the offer was published shortly after the PMqs exchange, with Sir Keir saying that while “fully supported the wider opening of schools”, such a move "requires a consensus and we are not there yet”, he added.

He then proposed a meeting between himself, Shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and the Prime Minister to “explore" ways to bridge a row with teaching unions over the easing of lockdown plans.

A spokesperson for the Labour leader said: “Two weeks ago Keir Starmer wrote to the Prime Minister offering to work constructively with him to discuss how we can allow more children back at school safely. We have yet to receive a reply.”

But Mr Johnson hit back, saying the Labour leader had not offered "any dissent" in a call between the PM and opposition leaders on the lockdown exist strategy.

"He thoroughly endorsed our approach, and I believe he should continue to endorse it today," the Prime Minister said.

And he told MPs: "I take full responsibility for what this Government has been doing in tackling coronavirus, and I am very proud of our record.

"And if you look at what we have achieved so far, it is very considerable.

"We have protected the NHS, we have driven down the death rate, we are now seeing far fewer hospital admissions, and I believe that the public understand that, with good British common sense, we will continue to defeat this virus and take this country forward.

"And what I think the country would like to see from him is more signs of cooperation in this endeavour."

This latest clash comes amid rising tensions between the party leaders’ as Sir Keir told The Guardian the government should “get a grip”.

 

Read the most recent article written by Eleanor Langford - At a glance: The changes schools must make before they welcome back all pupils in September

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