Boris Johnson backs Toby Young in storm over his appointment to universities watchdog

Posted On: 
3rd January 2018

Boris Johnson has defended Toby Young’s appointment to the board of the new universities regulator, accusing critics of a "ridiculous outcry".

Boris Johnson previously hired Toby Young as a Spectator columnist

The Foreign Secretary hit back at criticism over remarks Mr Young previously made on social media, describing the journalist as the “ideal man for the job”.

Mr Young, who was a columnist for The Spectator when Mr Johnson was its editor, was last week appointed to the board of the new Office for Students.

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He was given the job by by Universities Minister Jo Johnson, who is also Boris Johnson's brother.

But after the Independent collated a string of his past comments, Labour called for him to step down saying he was “completely unsuitable for this role”.

In a 2011 during a session of Prime Minister’s Questions the right wing commentator tweeted: “That’s quite a cleavage behind Ed M[iliband].”

He followed that up a year later with: “Serious cleavage behind Ed Miliband’s head. Anyone know who it belongs to?”

In another tweet he joked about a woman pictured with him that he “had my d*** up her a***”.

He has also referred to gay women as “hard-core dykes” and described singer George Michael as “queer as a coot”.

Dawn Butler, the Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, 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 Mr Johnson dismissed the call, tweeting this morning: "Ridiculous outcry over Toby Young. He will bring independence, rigour and caustic wit. Ideal man for job." 

Responding to the criticism Mr Young said: “I’m neither misogynistic nor homophobic. I’m a strong supporter of both women’s rights and LGBT rights.”

The journalist has set up two free schools and attended Harvard and Cambridge universities.