In recent years Steerpike has grown accustomed to watching car-crash interviews of Gavin Williamson. Whether it's refusing to reveal his A-level results or declaring he wants to shut all schools, the under fire Education Secretary rarely misses a chance to channel his inner Alan Partridge. But now it seems the minister has decided to cross media and put his excruciating interviews in print too.
Less than 24 hours before a mooted reshuffle Williamson has done an interview with the Evening Standard in which he makes a number of eyebrow-raising claims. Described in the piece as 'surprisingly chipper' the South Staffordshire MP waxed lyrical about an encounter with Manchester United star Marcus Rashford, who led the campaign for the government to introduce free schools meal.
According to Williamson: 'we met over Zoom and he seemed incredibly engaged, compassionate and charming.' There's just one problem: the minister actually met 'rugby player Maro Itoje' – a six foot four dreadlocked British and Irish Lion with no resemblance to the five foot nine striker.
While social media has understandably gone into meltdown about Williamson's slip up, Steerpike fears the furore has meant other gems are missed in the 2,000 word piece. The minister declared his pet tarantula Cronos is now transitioning gender, that he has the 'hide of a rhino' and that he intends to send his 'mother into the attic to drag out' his A-level grades. He also talks about his office furnishings, boasting that he has a a picture of the Queen propped up on his windowsill:
“'That was a gift because there was a comment about how every other office had a picture of the Queen. Matt Hancock has her in a big circle… I do think we could get a more flattering one.' Realising what he has said, he backtracks: 'Obviously every picture of the Queen is absolutely stunning but I’ve seen better than that.'
Insulting Her Majesty a day before a possible reshuffle? A very courageous decision minister, as Sir Humphrey might say.