Keir Starmer FLIP FLOP: Labour’s SIX positions on school closures in less than a year

Keir Starmer grilled by Coates over possible school closures

Since the start of the pandemic, the Labour Party has changed its opinion on whether schools should open on at least six occasions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has seized upon the lack of clarity from the Opposition to accuse Sir Keir of being “captain Hindsight” and announcing his position only once it becomes clear how the Government is going to act.

In July last year the Prime Minister said Labour had “more flip-flops than Bournemouth beach”.

In an awkward moment for the party in December, high profile members of Labour even contradicted each other on whether schools should remain open, with Sir Keir and London Mayor Sadiq Khan publicly at loggerheads on the issue.

Yesterday the Opposition’s lack of clarity on its view on schools was made clear again.

In the morning the party’s shadow education secretary said Labour believed schools should close as a last resort.

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But, by the afternoon, just hours before the Prime Minister announced to the nation his intention to close schools, Sir Keir suddenly announced a change in position and called for them to shut.

Express.co.uk has taken a look at how Labour’s position has flip-flopped from calling for schools to open, then remain shut, then open, then shut again since Sir Keir Starmer became Labour leader.

April 29 2020: Labour leader says schools should open as soon as possible

Just two weeks after taking over as Labour leader, Sir Keir was eager to see schools reopen as quickly as possible.

The Opposition warned online learning was no substitute to face-to-face lessons and called for the Prime Minister to outline an “exit strategy” to the lockdown.

A spokesman said: “We are concerned that the longer the schools are shut the bigger the inequalities between those children that have access to good homeschooling versus those who may not have access to good homeschooling, because of overcrowded accommodation for example.”

May 23 2020: Keir Starmer refuses to back opening schools at start of June

A month after urging the Government to outline a strategy that would see school children return to classrooms, Sir Keir appeared unwilling to give his backing to Boris Johnson’s plans to open schools at the start of June.

Not supporting any set timetable he said schools should reopen when they were “safe”.

He told The Telegraph: “The question is, can we increase the numbers of children going back into school?

“I want that to happen as soon as it can.”

August 15 2020: Schools must open in September “no ifs, no buts”

With coronavirus cases starting to rise again in August, there was concern across the country about whether schools could re-open in September.

Boris Johnson said it was his “moral duty” to ensure children were in classrooms for the start of the new academic year.

Sir Keir went further and said the Prime Minister had a “moral responsibility” to ensure schools opened.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said: “Let me send a very clear message to the Prime Minister: I don’t just want all children back at school next month, I expect them back at school.

“No ifs, no buts, no equivocation.”

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December 14: Labour’s Sadiq Khan calls for London schools to close early for Christmas

Amid surging coronavirus cases across the capital, the London Mayor wrote a letter to the Prime Minister urging schools to be closed early for Christmas and to re-open late in January.

Labour was split on the issue, with the party leader publicly disagreeing with Mr Khan’s stance on LBC radio.

He said the London Mayor should “talk to the Health Secretary about what we can do this week to keep schools open”.

He added: “I’m very reluctant to close our schools down.”

January 4 2021 morning: Labour says schools should stay open during lockdown

On January 3 Sir Keir Starmer demanded Boris Johnson introduce a national lockdown within 24 hours.

Explaining the party’s position the following morning, shadow education secretary Kate Green said a fresh lockdown would help keep schools open.

She said: “We’ve always said schools should be the very last place to close.

“We’re seeing the opportunity of a national lockdown, on the terms that I’ve just tried to describe, to enable us to try to get this virus under control and to keep children in class and learning.”

January 4 2021 afternoon: Sir Keir Starmer says schools must close as part of a lockdown

Just hours after his education spokeswoman said Labour supported keeping schools open during a lockdown, the party appeared to have once again changed its view.

Speaking to the media, Sir Keir Starmer said: “We need to go back to where we were in March with very, very strong messaging about staying at home.

“I’m afraid that the closure of schools is now inevitable and therefore that needs to be part of the national plan for further restrictions.”

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