Plans to get all children back to school in early September are now at “serious risk” because of government incompetence and the chaos caused by the exams fiasco, the Labour leader Keir Starmer has warned.
In one of his strongest interventions to date, which is bound to draw a furious response from Downing Street, Starmer told the Observer that two crucial weeks, which should have been spent preparing for schools to reopen, have been wasted dealing with a self-inflicted “mess” that has destroyed public confidence in government.
“I want to see children back at school next month, and I expect the prime minister to deliver on that commitment. However, the commitment is now at serious risk after a week of chaos, confusion and incompetence from the government,” the Labour leader said.
“Ministers should have spent the summer implementing a national plan to get all children back to school. Instead, the last two weeks have been wasted clearing up a mess of the government’s own making over exam results.”
Team Corbyn learnt that Labour would lose the 2019 general election three months before a voter had gone to the polls. On September 22, the Sunday morning of the party’s annual conference in Brighton, John McDonnell walked with his wife, Cynthia, to a meeting room in the bowels of the Metropole hotel. What the shadow chancellor was about to find out would prove difficult to stomach.
In the last days of August, Niall Sookoo, Labour’s director of elections, and Tim Waters, its head of data, had commissioned a poll from YouGov that turned the optimism of Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle on its head. According to a poll of 20,000 voters, it would end the campaign with just 138 MPs — its worst result since 1918.
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