'I want the children to go back to school now', Labour MP tells Peston

Labour MP Jess Phillips has told ITV's Peston Show the government should have made schools safe for more children to be back in now during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Phillips told Political Editor Robert Peston: "I want the children to be back at school when it is safe but I want that safety to have been planned for from the moment the schools were closed."

When asked about what measures should be in place for those graduating or leaving school, the Birmingham Yardley MP said: "There absolutely should be schemes, whether there are training schemes, it's not like we've had a few weeks to plan for this."

"We need to be looking at business schemes, we need schemes that specifically target school leavers and those looking for work," she added.

Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckley, said it is down to local authorities and local organisations to get the safety of schools right.

He added: "The idea that somehow we said in May that everything was going to happen by June, that this is set in stone, is I'm afraid a misinterpretation of our plan and quite frankly unfair when we have been working at pace to support schools."

Buckley continued: "Schools are under-control they are dictated to by headteachers, local authorities."

"The government cannot dictate the pace of a school at the flick of a switch."

When asked about not seeing anyone on the frontbench from an ethnic minority background in a Labour government, Ms Phillips said: "What I know about equalities in political representation so it only really matters if it changes things on the grounds for ordinary people."

"So absolutely I will pay credit to Boris Johnson in that regard but actually talking the talk or walking the walk or whichever one it is has got to be about action - we need to see action from the millions of recommendations on the variety of reviews that have already been done, not withstanding the Lammy review, the various Windrush ones.

"The government has put on a review instead of taking action, the prime minister has to show he cares and do something about it."

Theresa May's Former Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell, said the PM has a good formation on tackling race and equality in the UK from his predecessor.

He said: "I think Theresa got the race disparity audit and also the consultation showed that businesses wanted to publish the ethnic pay gap."

"This is a really important issue for our country and Boris Johnson has got a real opportunity to drive this forward."

Gavin Barwell said the PM has a good formation on tackling race and equality in the UK from his predecessor. Credit: ITV Peston

Former England International, John Barnes, told Peston that people have to look at themselves to change their perception about black people.

He said: "We can't just think it is football fans or the police, we have to look at ourselves and think can we change our perception of what black is towards the average black man?

"Not an elite black person, not Marcus Rashford and Obama and Beyonce, but how do we view the average black person and that's what we have to change."

When asked about what he feels about the fact the UK is having another review rather than actually getting down to policies and change, Mr Barnes said: "It's not the first time it's happened, when you talk about policy and change how can laws and policies change people's perceptions?"

"When people talk about education, what education are we learning? Are we learning about the British empire that civilised the world or are we telling the truth about what really happened in colonial times."

Barnes added: "Because we've believe the myth that the people who created racial hierarchy are stupid, ignorant people, they weren't. They were the most intelligent scientists, anthropologists who had to sell this myth of racial hierarchy, morally and intellectually, for us to be able to colonise the world."

"Until we deconstruct what we've learnt, nothing will be changed. We can change policy, we can change law, we can meet targets but until the individual person changes his perception nothing will change because there will always be ways around those laws."

When asked about football behind closed doors, Barnes said it's not ideal but "either we do it or we wait for the stadiums to be full but we'll be waiting for a long time."

He added: "Football isn't just about the players, football employs thousands of people, it's not just about the 22 people in the pitch because they want to play and get paid."

Barnes said: "Football has to get back to normal because the amount of people who depend on it for the livelihoods and not just the players means like everyone else we have to get back to some sort of normality, not just in football but in society."