Labour MP in furious row with Hartley-Brewer over ‘disaster’ school reopening plans
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An argument boiled over between Wes Streeting and talkRadio host Julia Hartley-Brewer after she challenged the minister on reopening plans for schools. Ms Hartley-Brewer hit out at the Labour Party’s non-existent strategy as she claimed the party, which is supposed to “care about people”, is not looking out for disadvantaged kids. Mr Streeting blamed unavailable scientific advice as to the reason for his party’s lack of action.
Speaking on her breakfast show, Ms Hartley-Brewer told Mr Streeting: “I thought the whole point of the Labour Party was that you cared about people who are disadvantaged, the whole point is that you’re the nice people, you care about people at the bottom of the pile.
“The poorest kids, the disadvantaged, the inequality, you want those kids to have the best start in life.
“Well, those kids aren’t getting the best start in life, I’m sure your kids are doing just fine, my kids are doing just fine.
“Millions of children who are not getting a proper education haven’t got broadband, haven’t got a laptop, blame the Government for that, but either way they’re sitting at home, three kids in a tower block flat, those kids aren’t getting an education.
“Those kids are being disadvantaged, why should those children’s futures be sacrificed for other people?”
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The MP for Ilford North replied: “Well, you’re absolutely right about the risk in terms of disadvantage Julia, and it’s not just children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds that will be really suffering as a result.
“I think most kids, and most parents, are finding this hard, we all accept that.”
Ms Hartley-Brewer interrupted and asked if the minister supported the Conservative’s school policies in which he replied he wanted schools to return as “safe and as quickly as possible”.
The presenter then wanted Mr Streeting to clarify what his comments actually meant.
He said: “It means having a clear plan in place out for the roll-out of mass testing, having school staff on the vaccinations list, properly ventilated classrooms with extra capacity if needed, clear guidance around the use of facemasks.
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“There are loads of things the Government can and should be doing to make schools safe.”
Ms Hartley-Brewer then called out the MP by saying if those things could be done within a week, would Labour support schools reopening and added he sits on the fence.
Mr Streeting said it was dependant on what scientific criteria the Government uses.
The show host erupted and said: “No no, that’s the Government’s position, I want to know what Labour’s position is.
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“Do you want schools to open at the earliest opportunity or not?
“What are your criteria for schools reopening, and (you) say as safe as possible, well other than making big plastic bubbles or hazmat suits for every single person you’re not going to have 100 percent safety for every single person, so what are Labour’s criteria for schools reopening?”
The minister floundered by reiterating it was down to what scientific advice the Government currently follows, but he was unable to say what it was.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said schools would be given a two-week notice if they are able to reopen.
Currently, children of key workers and vulnerable children are the only pupils attending schools with many turning to home learning.
Schools will remain closed until February or until the Government makes amendments.
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