Ridge on Sunday
Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves said the Education Secretary failed “miserably” to reopen schools for most children before September, and she called for a ‘back-to-work Budget’ in July to save jobs.
- On shopping: “I went to the shops yesterday to buy Father’s Day presents… I did that, I wore a face mask, I tried as best as I could to be socially distanced from other people in the shop. We all want the economy to get back up and running.”
- On reopening schools: “He [Gavin Williamson] should have been using this period of lockdown to prepare schools to ensure that the space is available because many schools are cramped – particularly in inner-city areas.”
- She added: “Williamson was set a test. He has failed it miserably and now the government are trying to blame other people for their failure.”
- Asked what could have been done: “Labour put forward constructive proposals like using libraries and leisure centres.”
- On social distancing: “Even with the social distancing measures that we’ve got in place now at two metres, more children could have been brought back into a school setting if the government had made the effort to use other buildings, bring in temporary staff to put up temporary buildings.”
- On the economy: “We do need from the Chancellor a Budget for jobs, a back-to-work Budget in July this year to quickly get on top of this – to support people to go back to work, to protect jobs.
- On the recent 2019 election review: “No one underestimates the scale of the challenge… But I think also everybody can see that in the past two and a bit months that Keir Starmer has been leader of the Labour Party, we’ve begun to climb that mountain.”
- Asked if it was right to elect Starmer as leader given his role in shaping Labour’s Brexit policy in the 2019 election: “All of the party, the previous leadership of the party, were responsible for those decisions.”
- She added: “I don’t think that is the only reason, or even the biggest reason, for our defeat in December.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called for the government to take equity stakes in firms, and warned that the Covid-19 economic crisis could be as bad as the 1930s if “we don’t get our act together”.