Jacob Rees-Mogg threatens to ban ‘privilege’ training – but doesn’t have the power to do so

Jacob Rees-Mogg threatens to ban ‘privilege’ training – but doesn’t have the power to do so

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Ironically, it seems Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg may well need to check his privileges, after he threatened to prohibit “absurd” training courses and diversity and inclusion when he doesn’t have the authority to do so.

In his latest attack on the workings of the civil service, following his decision to leave passive-aggressive office notes for civil servants who work from home, Mr Rees-Mogg said the “mockable” training “undermines our efforts to promote equality”.

‘Promoting equality’ is exactly what diversity and inclusion training is designed to do, Mr Rees-Mogg.

The Cabinet Office minister told The Telegraph: “There will be a new [training] curriculum coming which will stop these absurd courses being available. And they are particularly in diversity and wellness areas.”

“All I’m saying is that you need courses to actually help people in their daily work. And this is professionalism, it is identifiable skills. It mustn’t be wokery.”

How unfortunate, then, that he doesn’t have the power to shut down individual, departmental training. (He has to write to each secretary of state hoping they’ll agree with him.)

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One course Mr Rees-Mogg wasn’t too happy with was a Cabinet Office course titled ‘Check Yo’ Privilege’, which The Telegraph said encourages civil servants to “be aware of their own privileged position whenever making pronouncements about wider society”.

Sounds reasonable to us, but the Tory MP claimed it was “in its very name a politicised course”.

He continued: “It has a view of the world that is not shared by all political parties. I think the course was to explain to people how they’d had an unfair advantage in life and wasn’t that awful?

“But try and think of the opposite. What if you had a course, let’s say: ‘Celebrate your inner Eurosceptic’, which perhaps we should ask Nigel Farage if he was willing to do. The civil service would be outraged, but it’s comparatively a political subject.”

We’ll do one better, Jacob: having you decide what training on privilege, diversity and inclusion should go ahead is like asking the Queen for budgeting advice.

That said, he may well have some luck with persuading one particular secretary of state, after it was revealed back in May that the Department of Transport spent thousands of taxpayers’ cash on an away day involving juggling.

When asked about the training by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “I don’t think it is [necessary for DfT employees to learn how to juggle]. I can assure you, Nick, it won’t be happening again.

“I wasn’t happy to see the story in the papers and frankly, I understand … the need to get people together – particularly when they haven’t met up for a long time – and build teams but I don’t approve of that sort of thing.

“I can tell you – I won’t repeat my conversations – it won’t happen again.”

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