Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has apologised after being caught on camera saying she had done a “f****** good job” over the schools concrete crisis while others “sat on their arse”.
The comments came in footage released by ITV News, filmed as the camera repositioned for extra shots.
She said: “Does anyone ever say, you know what, you’ve done a f****** good job because everyone else has sat on their arse and done nothing?
“No signs of that, no?”
Education secretary Gillian Keegan is recorded on camera saying others ‘have been sat on their a***s’ on schools Raac crisis and shares frustration about not being thanked for doing ‘a f***ing good job’https://t.co/c02gI4dXiM pic.twitter.com/jWbYTVZl5D
— ITV News Politics (@ITVNewsPolitics) September 4, 2023
In a follow-up interview Ms Keegan apologised for her “choice language” and said it was an “off-the-cuff remark”.
The minister’s comments came at the conclusion of an interview with ITV’s Daniel Hewitt in which she said he had been “pressing me quite hard” and claimed he was “making out it was all my fault”.
In her apology, the Education Secretary refused to say who she believed was “sat on their arse”.
It was an off-the-cuff remark after the news interview had finished, or apparently after it had finished. I would like to apologise for my choice language, that was unnecessary
Ms Keegan said: “I wasn’t really talking about anyone in particular. It was an off-the-cuff remark after the news interview had finished, or apparently after it had finished.
“I would like to apologise for my choice language, that was unnecessary.”
She indicated she was frustrated with those who have not responded to questionnaires asking about whether schools have the dangerous aerated concrete present.
In her follow-up interview, Ms Keegan said: “It is frustrating because we’re doing everything now to take a leading position to be on the front foot, to put all the support in place that responsible bodies and schools need.
“It’s also frustrating that we’ve got some questionnaires that still are not there, we’ve been chasing and chasing them, we’ve written again today to say you need to get your questionnaires in by the end of the week.”
Pressed on whether she was frustrated with councils, her predecessor as education secretary or Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Ms Keegan said: “No it’s not, it’s nobody in particular.”
But taking aim at ITV’s award-winning Mr Hewitt, she said: “Actually it was the interviewer, because the interviewer was making out it was all my fault, and that’s what I was saying, do you ever go into these interviews where anyone ever says anything but ‘you’ve just done a terrible job’.”
I think this whole situation is descending into farce
Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader
He said: “I think this whole situation is descending into farce.
“The Government has dropped the ball here, failed to prepare.
“The Prime Minister bears responsibility for some of the key decisions along the way.
“And instead of coming out today and saying, ‘This is what we’re going to do to fix the problem, which we have made a lot worse’, you’ve got members of the Cabinet coming out trying to blame other people, trying to blame people within their own teams and to say, essentially, ‘Put responsibility anywhere but on the Government’.
“That is not what Britain deserves.”
Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Munira Wilson said: “Gillian Keegan’s disgraceful comments add insult to injury for parents who’ve seen their children’s return to school ruined by this concrete crisis.
“Expecting people to thank her when children are being taught in classrooms at risk of collapse shows Keegan must be living on another planet.”