Rising star Tory MP Kemi Badenoch blames TV for Toby Young’s tweets

Written by David Singleton on 3 January 2018 in Diary

Tories are split over whether Toby Young is a great wit or a man prone to ‘vile, leering nastiness’

With nothing much happening in Westminster, the appointment of Toby Young to the board of the main regulator of higher education appears to sparked division in the Tory ranks.

After Young tried to downplay a stream of social media posts, including numerous comments about women’s breasts, he was taken to task for sexism by a senior MP in his own party.

Margot James, who is minister for small businesses and is responsible for corporate responsibility, said: "Toby Young is worthy of his appointment but it is a mistake for him to belittle sexist comments by labelling them ‘politically incorrect’, a term frequently used to dismiss unacceptable comments about, and behaviour towards, women and minorities."

Another prominent Tory figure also expressed their distaste over Young's colourful tweeting, with David Cameron’s former strategy director Andrew Cooper wondering why the Tories were yet again trashing their own brand.

He stated: “Having a Free School entrepreneur & Conservative on the Office for Students is an excellent idea. But surely they could have found one who doesn't also have a trail of vile, leering nastiness. Latest example of the Tory values failure, which is killing them.”

Lining up to defend Young were Michael Gove and Boris Johnson, who praised his pal's "caustic wit". But perhaps the most curious defence of Young was offered by rising star MP Kemi Badenoch, who is tipped for promotion in next week’s reshuffle. She tweeted:

“I've worked with Toby and know he is passionate about getting the best education for disadvantaged kids. It's a shame he's had to defend himself in this way, but this is what comes of tweeting while watching telly, @toadmeister I warned you.”

For good measure, the Tory MP added a smiley face emoticon. Badenoch is believed to have been referring to tweets such as the one where Young requested the identity of an MP with “serious cleavage” sitting behind Ed Miliband during Prime Minister’s Questions. And the one in which he commented about TV presenter Claudia Winkleman: “What happened to Winkleman’s breasts. Put on some weight, girlie.”

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