Steve August 18, 2020
newspaper-headlines:-‘missing-man’-johnson-and-a-high-street-‘bloodbath’

By BBC News
Staff

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Exam results once again feature on several of the front pages. The Metro channels political comedy The Thick of It describing the government as an “omnishambles”. It points to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson “clinging to his job”, the appointment of Baroness Dido Harding as Britain’s “health supremo” and no sign of the prime minister under the headline “You’re Gavin a laugh!”

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The Daily Star takes a similar tack as it refers to the prime minister as the Invisible Man. It says Brits have been “left scratching their heads” about the whereabouts of Boris Johnson.

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The Daily Mail calls Mr Williamson “the man who won’t take the blame” and whose “bungling” left 57,000 students heartbroken. It says the education secretary is trying to lay the “exams fiasco” at Ofqual’s door but says it will not “cut ice” with his critics who will point to a report published at the start of July which apparently warned the system may hurt poorer pupils.

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The Guardian says confidence in Mr Williamson among parents and teachers has drained away following the results backlash. Tory backbencher Robert Halfon has called for Boris Johnson to lead the “back-to-school” campaign himself to ensure confidence. The front page also carries a picture of Michelle Obama following her speech at the Democratic National Convention, which is being held virtually.

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However, the i says the prime minister has backed his education secretary and has turned down his offer to resign over the exam results chaos. The paper also says that senior Conservatives have called for exams regulator Ofqual to be abolished with Mr Williamson refusing to endorse its head.

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The Daily Telegraph leads on universities demanding extra cash to teach more students as vice-chancellors warn they will struggle to cope with an influx of students following the A-levels climbdown. A source has told the paper that Covid-19 is the “elephant in the room” with questions about how institutions can manage social distancing as well as increased student numbers.

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“Students in limbo” is the take from the Times as it warns that many pupils will be forced to defer their university courses until next year. Several universities have said students whose grades have been reinstated will be able to attend – but may have to wait a year as places have already filled up.

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“Bloodbath” is the headline in the Daily Express as it focuses on job cuts on the High Street. It says Marks and Spencer has become the latest victim of the “virus meltdown” and warns up to 300,000 jobs are facing the axe.

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The Financial Times leads on the story that US stocks have rebounded after the coronavirus crisis to hit a record high. European stocks have not done so well though, the paper says. Inside, its top leader does tackle the A-levels results mess, arguing that humans, not the computer algorithm, are to blame for the fiasco – pointing out that a computer programme simply does what it is told to.

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And the Daily Mirror leads on an interview with Charlotte Charles, the mother of 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn who died after being hit by a car allegedly driven by US citizen Anne Sacoolas. After the crash outside RAF Croughton, in Northamptonshire, Ms Sacoolas returned to the US, citing diplomatic immunity. Ms Charles is asking her to come back to Britain to “face justice” on the anniversary of his death.

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