Boris Johnson cites ‘caustic wit’ as key qualification for government job
The foreign secretary said Toby Young was an ideal fit for the higher education watchdog.
The appointment of Spectator writer Toby Young to the board of the main regulator of higher education has sparked a backlash from trade unions and Labour MPs.
It has also provided an insight into the job qualifications that are most prized by the foreign secretary.
Young was last week appointed to the board of the newly-established Office for Students. The Tory-supporting commentator, who co-founded the West London Free School in 2011 and runs the New School Network, is one of six new appointments to the regulator's board.
Critics have pointed to a string of past comments to argue that Young is not suitable for the job. The Tory-supporting commentator has called school wheelchair ramps a sign of "ghastly inclusivity" and once described working-class grammar school boys who secured places at Oxford as "universally unattractive" and "small, vaguely deformed undergraduates". During a 2011 session of Prime Minister’s Questions he tweeted: "That’s quite a cleavage behind Ed M." On another occasion, he commented on a photo of him next to a woman by joking that he “had my dick up her arse”.
Labour’s Dawn Butler told The Independent: "By any measure, this is a shocking appointment by the Prime Minister. These comments show that Toby Young is completely unsuitable for this role. If she fails to rethink this appointment, the message Theresa May is sending to students is that under the Tories, misogyny and homophobia will not just be tolerated but rewarded."
But Boris Johnson came to Young’s defence on Wednesday morning, tweeting: "Ridiculous outcry over Toby Young. He will bring independence, rigour and caustic wit. Ideal man for job."
Alas, not everyone on social media agreed about the caustic wit...