Labour tries to delay MPs’ return – but even on that there’s confusion
Labour leader Keir Starmer imposed a 3-line whip on MPs today to vote against a government motion to bring MPs back to Parliament on 2 June – but there was confusion, with some Labour MPs not sure whether the whip was applied to the scheduling vote or just to a trade bill later in the day.
Labour voted en bloc against the motion, but lost by 350 votes to 258. However, the same firmness has not been shown by the party’s leadership in support of teachers, their unions and the doctors who support their opposition to the Tories’ plan to force children back to school a day earlier than MPs will return to Commons business.
When asked last week whether he would back unions working to protect their staff from pressure to return to unsafe workplaces, Starmer’s response was not the resounding ‘Yes’ many might expect from the party of workers. Instead, he said he’d ‘have to look at it’:
Starmer’s soft stance on the return to school has been echoed by deputy leader – and former Shadow Education Secretary – Angela Rayner and Shadow Business Minister Lucy Powell, who have both added their support publicly to arguments for a speedy return, despite having no brief for education and in spite of the strong opposition of teaching unions and the British Medical Association, who do not believe the Tories’ track record during this crisis merits any confidence in the government’s assurances that it is safe for children and teachers to be back in school.
If there are safety grounds for wanting to delay the return of MPs when the government has no control of the crisis, those would apply even more to delaying the return to schools, even if it wasn’t Labour’s intrinsic duty to support working people and their unions.
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