'12 U-turns and rising': Johnson bruised at PMQs over crisis-littered 'wasted summer'

Boris Johnson has taken a bruising at PMQs, with Sir Keir Starmer attacking the prime minister for a "crisis-littered" coronavirus pandemic, which he said has seen the government perform "12 U-turns".

In the first PMQs since MPs returned to Parliament after over a month away, Sir Keir said it had been a "wasted summer" which the government should spent "preparing for the autumn and winter".

"Instead they've lurched from crisis to crisis, U-turn to U-turn, to correct one error, even two might make sense, but when the government's notched up 12 U-turns and rising, the only conclusion is serial incompetence".

"That serial incompetence is holding Britain back," Sir Keir said, as he asked Mr Johnson to accept responsibility for the government's errors.

  • ITV News Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks has a round-up from a fiery PMQs:

Pointing to the most embarrassing U-turn, Sir Keir asked the PM when he first knew about problems with the algorithm that resulted in the A-levels exams "fiasco".

Mr Johnson appeared to avoid answering the question, and instead highlighted the stress pupils and parents have undergone before noting exams could not take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He went on: "As a result of what we learned about the tests, the results that had come in, we did institute a change, we did act.

"The students, the pupils of this country now do have their grades and I really ask (Sir Keir) whether he will join me in congratulating those pupils on their hard work and whether he agrees with me that they deserve the grades they've got."

When pressed again for an answer, Mr Johnson said: "Ofqual made it absolutely clear time and again that in their view the system that was in place was robust. Ofqual is an independent organisation and credit had to be given to their views."

Mr Johnson was accused by Sir Keir of being "just tin eared and making it up as he goes along".

He added: "He's fooling nobody, even his own MPs have run out of patience."

"It's a fundamental issue of competence, God knows what's going on, there's no grip."

Sir Keir said the Prime Minister's own MPs have "run out of patience", following criticism from Tory backbenchers which saw one describe events as a "mega-disaster from one day to the next".

Mr Johnson dubbed his opposite number "Captain Hindsight" following the exam results fiasco, saying he was "leaping on a bandwagon, opposing a policy that he supported two weeks ago".

But the Labour leader, responding during Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, said: "The problem is he's governing in hindsight, that's why he's making so many mistakes."

Mr Johnson was chastised during the exchanges by the Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle who urged him to "try and answer the questions being put to the Prime Minister".