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Prime minister Boris Johnson is on holiday in Scotland as the A-level results crisis engulfs his government.
Downing Street confirmed the PM is taking a break north of the border on Monday and is not expected back in No.10 until the following week.
It comes as Johnson and education secretary Gavin Williamson were at the centre of a fierce backlash after almost 40% of A-level students saw their predicted results downgraded by a computer algorithm.
A No.10 spokesperson said the PM chaired a conference call with Williamson and senior officials on Monday morning.
Asked if the PM could cut short his holiday, the spokesperson added: “The prime minister will be kept up to date and will continue to receive updates and briefings as necessary.”
No.10 has refused to confirm when Johnson’s break began or exactly where he is. He is expecting back in Downing Street next week.
A number of senior Tories broke ranks on Monday to demand a U-turn and urging the government to use teachers’ predicted grades as the algorithm’s results disproportionately hit poorer students.
They included paymaster general and Cabinet Office minister Penny Mordaunt, who said she was “seeking a further meeting today” with the Department for Education after speaking with students and parents about exam results.
“I will be supporting colleges in their appeals, working to ensure those who have the grades on appeal can go to uni this year if that is what they want,” she tweeted.
“This group of young people have lost out on so much already, we must ensure that bright, capable students can progress on their next step. Delaying a year won’t be an option, and it shouldn’t be an option. For many it will mean falling out of education.”
She added: “I have also made my views on GCSE results known to DfE. Will be posting updates later today.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer has also called for the PM to personally take charge.
He tweeted: “Weeks of chaos, confusion and incompetence.
“We need a return to teacher assessments for A-level results and urgent action to avoid the same injustice for GCSE students.
“Boris Johnson has been invisible during this crisis. He needs to take personal responsibility, and fix it.”