Gavin Williamson – fresh out of a mistaken identity crisis – decided to use a videolink speech to warn universities to get back to in-person teaching today.
The education secretary was addressing the Universities UK conference in Newcastle via a large on-stage projector.
He hit out at vice-chancellors who “favour cancel culture over quality”, saying they risk undermining public confidence in higher education.
He also said students were now “making a beeline” towards those universities that were returning to campus life as normal, because they “quite rightly expect that they can study in person alongside other students”.
“Obviously, I am not saying that you relax all those health measures which are there to keep people as safe as possible and minimise the risk of Covid transmission,” Williamson said.
“What I do want to make clear is that I do not expect to see online learning used as a cost-cutting measure.”
But the speech has been widely ridiculed after The Times’ Nicola Woolcock tweeted: “Gavin Williamson doesn’t turn up in person to Universities UK conference in Newcastle – but uses his videolink speech to warn universities to get back to in person teaching…”
The Bureau’s journalist Gareth Davies sarcastically tweeted: ”He’s having a good week”, adding: ”‘Gavin a mare’ should be thing.”
Others speculated Williamson did not go to Newcastle because he needed to be in the House of Commons on Thursday – it’s thought he might be up for demotion in a cabinet reshuffle.
Here’s the best of the reaction elsewhere:
He probably mistook Newcastle for Newquay.— Atul Haria ? (@atulharia) September 9, 2021
Easy to get confused as they both look the same…
You couldn’t make this stuff up!! The Tories are killing satire, it’s just the norm for them!!! https://t.co/xgUQiwk8Eh— Dave Myring (@davemyring) September 9, 2021
This is full-on Thick of It level farce… ? https://t.co/OmivkGqs8z— Marcus Munafò (@MarcusMunafo) September 9, 2021
Please give us a competent Education Secretary. https://t.co/aMgXRE9zbo— Vince Maple #GrabAJab (@vincemaple) September 9, 2021