A young gentleman in the Question Time audience provoked one of the strongest reactions ever seen on the show after describing “the brightest and the best” as deserving of private school education.
But a young man in the audience took issue, and said: : “If young people are the future of Britain post-Brexit, your VAT would force people out of private schools, the state schools can’t cope with it.
“And it would actually deny the brightest and the best the bursaries...”
At this point a loud boo arose from the a large section of the audience.
He continued: “No, it would deny the brightest and the best because there would be less money going in, they couldn’t get the education they deserve and it would make the education in the state sector worse.”
The comment drew cries of ”shame!” from other audience members.
Whilst his stance could be interpreted as a defence of bursaries for poorer students, his tone certainly provoked a heated response.
Bursaries are intended to make private education accessible for all but this is not reflected in attendance figures.
Only around a fifth of students in the Russell Group of top universities come from poorer backgrounds and this figure drops to a tenth for Oxbridge universities.
Some private schools such as St Paul’s School in London, charge up to £8,000 a term and £12,000 for lodging even offer bursaries for parents who earn a combined £120,000.
Rayner replied: “I don’t think it will. The VAT levy is about schools paying the right amount of VAT which they currently don’t have to pay. It’s a state subsidy to private schools.
“I think when you’ve got choices to make I believe that actually putting that money into the 95% rather than the 5% is the right option.”
The man in question, Tom Brandford, tweeted after the show.
HuffPost UK has contacted Tom for comment.
David Dimbleby presented the topical debate from Norwich. On the panel were Conservative international development secretary Priti Patel; Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner; Lib Dem and former business secretary Vince Cable; Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley; former Daily Telegraph editor and official Margaret Thatcher biographer Charles Moore