‘You’re trying to trap me!’ Whately clashes with Nick Ferrari in awkward Williamson probe

Gavin Williamson: Helen Whalely quizzed by Nick Ferrari

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Conservative Care Minister Helen Whately was called on to defend Education Secretary Gavin Williamson on LBC after it was revealed Mr Williamson mixed up footballer Marcus Rashford and rugby player Maro Itoje. LBC host Nick Ferrari demanded to know whether the blunder meant Mr Williamson was incompetent or a racist. Ms Whately however refused to give a straight answer and accused the radio host of trying to catch her out

Mr Ferrari asked the Tory MP: “Is he racist or incompetent?”

Ms Whately refused to be drawn in and argued that she had”seen no more of this than what you have seen” 

“What more do you need,” pressed Mr Ferrari, before repeating his question.

“I don’t know,” replied the MP at first.

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Ms Whately added that she thought it was “highly unlikely” that Mr Williamson held racist views.

“So, it’s incompetence then?” responded Mr Ferrari.

“You’ve given me a false choice,” replied the Government minister.

“You’re trying to put me into a trap to say whether it’s one thing or the other.”

Gavin Williamson confuses Marcus Rashford with Maro Itoje

It comes after The Evening Standard published an interview with Mr Williamson in which he claimed to have spoken with footballer Marcus Rashford via Zoom.

However, the paper later clarified the Education Secretary had in fact met with the England rugby player Maro Itoje, not the Manchester United forward.

“Rashford’s spokesperson confirms that he has never had any direct communication with Williamson, although the minister did have a call with Itjoe about equal access to education during the pandemic,” wrote the Standard.

In a statement, Mr Williams later attempted to defend the slip-up.

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“We corrected this with the journalist before the publication of the story. I have huge respect for both Marcus Rashford and Maro Itoje who run effective and inspiring campaigns.”

He said: “Towards the end of a wide-ranging interview in which I talked about both the laptops and school meals campaigns, I conflated the issues and made a genuine mistake.

Mr Williamson has been the focus of much social media mockery following the gaffe.

He now founds himself in the firing line for a cabinet reshuffle as Boris johnson looks to refresh his top team.

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