Asked again if the blunder was through “racism or incompetence”, she simply said: “Honestly, I don’t know.”
She added: “He’s put out his explanation and there’s really nothing more I can say about it.”
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Ferrari then asked if that meant Williamson could be racist. Whately replied: “I can’t believe for a moment that he is. I think that sounds highly unlikely.”
“So he’s incompetent then!” Ferrari replied.
A visibly frustrated Whately said: “You’re trying to put me in a trap.
“I don’t accept the choice that you’ve offered me there.”
It comes after Williamson was left with his head in his hands after confusing Rashford and Itoje. In an interview with the Evening Standard, Williamson described how he had ‘met’ Rashford – the Manchester United player who forced the Government into a U-turn on free school meals provision during the pandemic – over Zoom.
Except he hadn’t. Williamson’s team then told the paper that he had actually met rugby player Itoje, who plays for Saracens and England.
People were embarrassed and hurried to criticise Williamson for his mistake, while Rashford and Itoje themselves mocked the education secretary.