Johnson responds to removal of opposition in education by announcing parents will be fined for not sending kids back to school in September – safe or not

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Starmer has backed rapid schools return, while sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey sided with unions in their concern about explosion of coronavirus outbreaks in schools

Boris Johnson has wasted no time in exploiting the removal of any opposition to his rush to re-open schools.

Labour leader Keir Starmer sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey – in spite of the prevailing cover story – because she refused to stop backing the National Education Union (NEU), Unite and other unions in their insistence that children and teachers must only go back into the classroom when it is safe to do so.

The doubling of coronavirus outbreaks in schools over the last few days shows that the UK is a long way from such safety – yet Starmer has continued to support an early return – and a string of so-called ‘centrists’ undermined Long-Bailey even when she was in post, appearing in radio, TV and print interviews to agree with their boss’s accommodation of Johnson’s wishes.

Now, with opposition removed from the Shadow Education brief, Johnson has immediately announced that children will be forced back to school in September – come what may – and that parents will be fined if they try to protect their kids by refusing to comply.

Johnson told an interviewer:

I want all children back in school in September.

Asked whether it would be compulsory, he responded:

Yes, it’s the law.

It’s worth noting that Johnson is not demanding that all MPs return to the Commons chamber. How the Tories will enforce any prosecution if parents claim the ‘Cummings defence’ of following “the instincts of every father and every parent” is unclear.

The UK epidemic has already seen at least 148 teachers die – and doctors are still trying to understand a new inflammatory disease in children following coronavirus infection.

But with the opposition away, the man responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people from the virus can play.

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