After Starmer supported Johnson’s easing of lockdown rules on Tuesday, he went on the attack at Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).
He said a “theme” has developed in their weekly exchanges, in that he “either dodges the question or gives dodgy answers”.
The pair clashed over child poverty statistics provided by Johnson at last week’s PMQs, with the Labour leader pointing to the Children’s Commissioner saying earlier this week that Johnson’s claims were false.
Listing Johnson’s claims, Starmer said: “There’s a theme to these exchanges.
“Last week I asked the PM about two claims about child poverty. He said absolute child poverty and relative child poverty have both declined under this government.
“On Monday, the office of the Children’s Commissioner ruled the PM’s answer was ‘mostly false’.
“The PM also said there are 4,000 fewer families now living in poverty than there were in 2010.
“On Monday, the office of the Children’s Commissioner ruled that was simply ‘false’.
“He’s been found out. He either dodges the question or he gives dodgy answers.”
Johnson replied: “I’m happy to point out to my learned friend that actually there are 100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty and 500,000 falling below the thresholds of low income and material deprivation.”
The PM defended the government’s spending record before pressing Starmer to encourage children back to school.
Starmer also told Johnson to stop “rejecting challenge” from Labour after he raised concerns about the effectiveness of the NHS Test and Trace system, which is seen as vital during the lifting of restrictions.
Referring to excess UK deaths during the pandemic, Starmer said “65,000 people have lost their lives because of COVID-19. The PM should welcome challenge that could save lives rather than complaining about it.”
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