Toby Young has stepped down from the Office for Students less than 24 hours after the universities minister issued a robust defence of his position in the House of Commons, amid a huge backlash over the free schools champion’s appointment.
In a statement posted on the Spectator website on Tuesday morning, Young said: “My appointment has become a distraction from its vital work of broadening access to higher education and defending academic freedom.”
Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, had strongly criticised Young’s OfS appointment in a letter to the prime minister on Friday..
“The Toby Young saga has cast great doubt on the judgment of the PM who failed to sack him in the first place. Then yesterday we had the spectacle of government universities minister defending his appointment in parliament, he had to go. Tory cronyism could not save his job,” Rayner wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
On Monday afternoon, hours before Young announced his decision to resign, the universities minister, Jo Johnson, defended him in parliament.
The following morning, having learned of the resignation, he said: “Toby Young’s track record setting up and supporting free schools speaks for itself. His decision to stand down from the OfS board and repeat unreserved apologies for inappropriate past remarks reflects his character better than the one-sided caricature from his armchair critics.”