PMQs: Keir Starmer brands Boris Johnson ‘tin-eared and making it up as he goes along’

PUBLISHED: 12:10 02 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:16 02 September 2020

Tory rebels warn that Boris Johnson could face another rebellion over emergency coronavius legislation. Photograph: House of Commons.

Tory rebels warn that Boris Johnson could face another rebellion over emergency coronavius legislation. Photograph: House of Commons.

PA Wire/PA Images

Sir Keir Starmer has branded Boris Johnson ‘tin-eared’ and accused the prime minister of ‘making it up as he goes along’.

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only continue to grow with your support.


Sir Keir said the prime minister’s own MPs have “run out of patience”, following criticism from Tory backbenchers which saw one describe events as a “mega-disaster from one day to the next”.

The Labour leader used his questions at PMQs to highlight the exams “fiasco” over the summer, telling the Commons: “We learned yesterday the education secretary knew well in advance that there was a problem with the algorithm.

“So a straight answer to a straight question please prime minister: when did the prime minister first know that there was a problem with the algorithm?”

Johnson highlighted the stress pupils and parents have undergone before noting exams could not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic, sidestepping exactly when he knew about problems.


Have your say

Send your letters for publication to The New European by emailing letters@theneweuropean.co.uk by Tuesday at 9am and pick up an edition each Thursday for more comment and analysis. Find your nearest stockist here, read the newspaper on our app, or subscribe to a print or digital edition for just £13. You can also join our readers' Facebook group to keep the discussion and debate going with thousands of fellow pro-Europeans.


He went on: “As a result of what we learned about the tests, the results that had come in, we did institute a change, we did act.

“The students, the pupils of this country now do have their grades and I really ask (Sir Keir) whether he will join me in congratulating those pupils on their hard work and whether he agrees with me that they deserve the grades they’ve got.”

After calling Starmer “Captain Hindsight” the opposition leader retaliated that: “The problem is he’s governing in hindsight, that’s why he’s making so many mistakes.”

He said Johnson “either knew of the problem with the algorithm and did nothing or he didn’t know when he should have”.

As the prime minister continued to avoid the key questions, the leader of the opposition suggested the fiasco demonstrated Johnson’s incompetence, using quotes from Tory MPs from the press which claimed he had overseen “megadisaster” and “calamity” in government.

He said: “He’s fooling nobody, even his own MPs have run out of patience.”

He cited one anonymous MP saying: “It’s mess after mess, his own MPs, U-turn after U-turn, it’s a fundamental issue of competence, God knows what’s going on, there’s no grip. His own MPs are right aren’t they?”

But rather than answer the accusations, Johnson distracted the Commons with talk of Starmer’s support for Jeremy Corbyn and the suggestion he condoned an IRA supporter. It prompted calls for the prime minister to withdraw the remarks.



The speaker interrupted to tell the PM: “There are questions being asked, we do need to try and answer the questions that are being put to the prime minister, it would be helpful to those who are watching”.

Become a Supporter

Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.

Become a supporter

You've seen the news, now discover the story

The New European is committed to providing in-depth analysis of the Brexit process, its implications and progress as well as celebrating European life.

Try 13 weeks for £20

Latest Articles

Most Read

latest issue

ANTI-BREXIT EVENTS

Find your nearest pro-European campaigning activities, talks, protests and events nationwide.