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Vince Cable takes credit for Matt Hancock’s public school interview pledge

This week Matt Hancock has found himself in the firing line over his social mobility drive. Following Hancock’s call for companies to ask job applicants if they attended private school at interview, the Provost of Eton College has threatened to resign from the Conservative Party.

So, with Hancock — who attended the King’s School — feeling the heat, Mr S doubts the latest figure to wade into the row with help soothe Tory tensions. Speaking at the Hay Festival, Vince Cable — the former Business Secretary — revealed that Hancock had actually personally sent him the report along with a personal letter just a few weeks ago.

He says that it was his friendship that sparked Hancock’s interest in social mobility after the pair worked together during the coalition:

‘They would send ministers to keep an eye on you. One of them was a young man called Matt Hancock who was very clever but a bit bunctious. Eventually we managed to do quite a bit together and one of the things I encouraged him to do was to think about diversity, encourage diversity – getting more women, ethnic minorities, people from disadvantaged backgrounds into the decision making process.’

So, Cable was delighted to hear from Hancock just a few weeks ago:

‘And lo and behold a few weeks ago he sent me a report with a very nice personal letter — he remembered our friendship —  about what he’d been doing in government to promote fairer access to top jobs in the civil service. I thought this is a bit of a turn out for the books but good for him. Then two days ago, you may have seen that the Provost of Eton was threatening to resign from the Conservative party because this dreadful man Hancock was promoting social mobility.’

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Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to or message @MrSteerpike

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