Now that Nadhim Zahawi has said the government made “a mistake” in closing schools during the pandemic, the Labour frontbench is confused over how to oppose them given their own record throughout the last two years. Appearing on Sunday Morning, Ashworth was asked whether, in hindsight, he agrees with Zahawi that schools should have stayed open throughout the lockdowns:
“We were always very clear that school closures had to be absolutely the last resort. We never wanted to see schools closed… we always wanted schools to stay open where they could.”
A brief history lesson for Jon: just hours before the third January 2021 lockdown was introduced, Sir Keir told both Sky and ITV in January 2021 that while school closures “should be a last resort”, it was “inevitable” that they would and “[their] closure should be part of the national restrictions… as soon as possible”. For Sir Keir, that meant primary schools too.
Both Ashworth and Starmer claimed closures should be a last resort, yet now the dust has settled, the party doesn’t seem willing to say if they made the right call – especially during the third lockdown. Zahawi’s admitted he thinks it was a mistake. What does Starmer think?