WATCH: Williamson won’t say what would make him quit

Education secretary accused of ‘totally ignoring’ question on breakfast TV when asked if he had offered his resignation
21st January 2021, 11:55am

Share

WATCH: Williamson won’t say what would make him quit

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/watch-williamson-wont-say-what-would-make-him-quit
Gavin W

Education secretary Gavin Williamson faced tough questioning this morning when he repeatedly avoided answering questions as to whether he had offered his resignation.

Mr Williamson's "record" over the past 10 months was put to him during an interview on ITV's Good Morning Britain, including the "exam fiasco", the "school reopening catastrophe" at the start of this term, the fact that some pupils were still without internet access, and being "repeatedly shamed over free school meals by a footballer".

At the end of the 14-minute interview, host Piers Morgan asked him, "What would it take for you to resign?"


Williamson: Teachers to get 2 weeks notice of school re-openings

Live lessons are 'best': Williamson contradicts Ofsted

Read: More Edenred and 5 other things Williamson told MPs


He replied: "My job is to deliver the very best for every child in the country. That's what I'm focused on. You know, today we're launching a skills for jobs programme. This is about…"

At this point he was interrupted by Mr Morgan, who asked: "Do you think you're skilled in your job Mr Williamson?"

Mr Williamson ignored the question and carried on giving his original answer, with Mr Morgan again interrupting: "Given that you're launching a skills for jobs programme, are you skilled in your job?"

Mr Williamson said: "My focus is on delivering for all youngsters right across the country and making sure that…"

Mr Morgan interrupted: "I think your focus is on avoiding any difficult question I want to ask you, so we'll leave it there".

Earlier in the interview, the education secretary had said he would give teachers and parents two weeks' notice before reopening schools.

But he avoided answering more questions on whether he had offered his resignation and was accused by Mr Morgan of ignoring him.

'Given the level of failure during your reign have you offered your resignation to the PM?' - @piersmorgan 

'My one focus is making sure we deliver the best for our children.' - Gavin Williamson

Piers says the Minister has been a catastrophe and should 'own it'. pic.twitter.com/uXBfuCbSev

- Good Morning Britain (@GMB) January 21, 2021

"It's a straight question," he said. "Have you offered your resignation to the prime minister at any stage of the pandemic? Yes or no?"

The education secretary said: "Our focus, my focus is making sure that children get the best remote education while they're not in school."

"Of course it is," said Mr Morgan. "You're the education secretary. I would expect it. But have you offered your resignation?"

Mr Williamson said: "Our focus is making sure children return to school at the earliest possible moment."

"Is there a problem on the line?" said Mr Morgan. "Can you not hear me? Mr Williamson you seem to be totally ignoring me. I'm just asking you a straight question.

"Given the level of failure in your reign as education secretary in this pandemic, given that 92 per cent of teachers in England want you to go, given that you're being described by the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats as the worst education secretary in British history, I simply ask you, have you looked in the mirror and thought 'you know what - I've done a terrible job, I'm gonna say to the prime minister, it's time for me to step aside and let someone more competent take power'? Have you had that conversation with yourself and have you then had it with the prime minister?"

He replied: "Piers, my one focus is making sure we deliver the very best for all the children."

Mr Morgan said: "We know what your focus is. You're the education secretary. The problem is, your focus has not proven to be very good, has it?"

Mr Williamson said: "We're dealing with a global pandemic, where we've had to make decisions at incredible pace and decisions that none of us would have wanted to make."

Piers Morgan said: "But you've made a series of bad decisions, education secretary - decisions that have had huge ramifications for teachers, students, for parents. You've been a catastrophe. Own it."

Mr Williamson said: "Our focus is always about bringing children back into the classroom at the earliest possible moment, when the advice is that we can do so. We're going to be giving teachers and parents and children as much notice as possible."

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Register for free to read more

You can read two more articles on Tes for free this month if you register using the button below.

Alternatively, you can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters

Already registered? Log in

You’ve reached your limit of free articles this month

Subscribe to read more

You can subscribe for just £1 per month for the next three months and get:

  • Unlimited access to all Tes magazine content
  • Exclusive subscriber-only articles 
  • Email newsletters