Shadow ministers demand Theresa May 'ditches' Toby Young from university role
Labour have written to Theresa May demanding she strips Toby Young of his new role on the board of the new universities regulator.
Mr Young came under fire this week over a series of sexist and homophobic comments he has made in the past.
While the journalist said he regretted “sophomoric and silly” remarks he had made, he argued his critics had deliberately misrepresented him as a “caricature of a heartless Tory toff”.
However he did respond to the widespread outcry by deleting tens of thousands of his tweets, including several containing lewd remarks about women.
Boris Johnson has also come to his defence, calling the furore over Mr Young “ridiculous” and describing him as a “caustic wit” who is the “ideal man for [the] job”.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner and Shadow Equalities Minister Dawn Butler said the journalist was guilty of “disturbing” misogyny and an “irresponsible” response to public criticism.
The pair added that free schools campaigner Mr Young had a “history of homophobia, misogyny and indifference to the rights of people with disabilities”.
In a joint letter to the Prime Minister, they argued the appointment was at odds with the Office for Students’ stated aim of “increasing access and improving diversity” in higher education.
They wrote: “The virulence of Mr Young’s misogyny is disturbing; furthermore, he has offered no apology for his remarks. Instead, Mr Young has said that it would be a ‘shame if people who have said controversial things in the past, or who told heterodox opinions, are prohibited from serving on public bodies’.
“This is an irresponsible attitude from someone who has already made offensive remarks. Instead of apologising for causing offence Mr Young has instead indulged in gaslighting many of those who have objected, rounding on them and questioning their sanity. This is not evidence of what the Foreign Secretary termed ‘caustic wit,' it is simple misogyny.”
And they suggested that offering the job to a figure who once worked under Mr Johnson at the Spectator indicated “cronyism” on the party of the government.
“When you stood outside Downing Street in the summer of 2016, you claimed that you wanted to build a country that works for everyone. In the autumn of that year, you talked of a ‘truly meritocratic country’. The appointment of someone like Mr Young stands in contrast.
“A petition calling for his appointment to be reversed has attracted more than 120,000 signatures at the time of writing. As a former Women and Equalities Secretary, we sincerely hope you will reconsider this appointment and reassure the country that you are not on the side of bigotry and cronyism.”
Downing St has been contacted for a comment.