Boris Johnson has been accused of lying over claims he sought Labour’s help to build a national taskforce aimed at reopening schools during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has challenged the allegations saying he was never consulted on the idea.
Referring to a letter he sent to the prime minster over Labour’s willingness to work with the government to reopen schools, Sir Keir said: ‘The prime minister and I have never discussed my 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 so please drop that.’
Johnson had earlier claimed the opposition was privy to discussions on starting a taskforce but had ‘deviated’ from those discussions.
‘As I told the house before I have been in contact with the right honourable gentleman with a device called the telephone. We’ve tried to agree a way forward which he seems to have deviated from,’ the prime minister said.
Sir Keir hit back, accusing the prime minister of ‘flailing’ over the issues.
‘It is no good the prime minister flailing around trying to blame others. A month ago today, he made the announcement about schools without consulting relevant parties, without warning about the dates or without any scientific evidence for his decision.
‘It’s about time he took responsibility for his own failures.’
He added: ‘This mess was completely avoidable. The consequences are stark. The Children’s Commissioner talked about an emerging picture which doesn’t give confidence that there is a strategic plan. She called on the government to scale up its response.
‘It must have occurred to the government that space wold be a problem. That there would be a need for temporary space and classrooms.
‘They built the Nightgale hospitals. Why are then only starting on schools now?’