Toby Young has said the “confected outrage” he is facing over his appointment to a new universities regulator is because he is a Brexit-backing Tory.
The former journalist and free schools advocate, who once tweeted “fuck off penis breath” and tried to impersonate a lesbian to gain access to the gay scene, was appointed to the Office for Students and has faced a backlash over his previous comments and his lack of experience.
“The reason for all this confected outrage, of course, is that I’m a Conservative and an outspoken supporter of Brexit,” Young wrote on Wednesday.
“I’ve said and done some pretty sophomoric things in the past, the government’s opponents think they can use me to embarrass Theresa May. I’ve become a political football.”
Young defended himself in The Spectator as he deleted around 48,000 of his tweets en masse on Wednesday morning, as some of the more embarrassing ones came to light.
The deletion was caught by the Twitter account @DeletedByMPs, which began regurgitating Young’s tweets that MPs had retweeted.
They included benign ones such as a Gumtree advert for a janitor at a London free school.
But the ones MPs had retweeted were more political and most related to Brexit.
From August, 2016: ‘Quite right and wholly predictable. Pro-Remain lawyers are wasting their time on this one.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/2…’
From March, 2016: ‘What “special status”? Cameron surrendered one of our few remaining vetoes in his “renegotiation” bit.ly/20VUJHj…’
From June, 2016: The @Spectator declares for Out, just as it did in 1975. Right then, right now.
From June, 2016: The Guardian: keep connected and inclusive, not angry and isolated. Irony is, Remainers so much more angry
As the Brexit result came in: ‘I hope the Prime Minister doesn’t resign. I trust him to accept the verdict of the people and lead us into a brave new world’ (This was retweeted by Jeremy Hunt, among others)
From September 2016: ‘Can’t get my head around a demo in favour of our laws being made by unelected officials. It’s the opposite of the Arab Spring’.
The Evening Standard, edited by ex-chancellor George Osborne, questioned the appointment of a man who has “an obsession with commenting on the anatomy of women in the public eye”.
“He has dismissed the ‘inclusion’ agenda in schools as pandering to the likes of a ‘functionally illiterate troglodyte with a mental age of six’. And as recently as 2015, he supported offering a form of eugenics to “parents on low incomes with below average IQ,” the editorial noted.
“With no Commons majority, would the Government really win a motion that objected to his appointment?
“And would a Tory Party struggling to connect with metropolitan Britain want to go down to defeat defending Mr Young?”
It comes as the government is facing mounting pressure from Labour over Young’s appointment to the Office for Students.
MPs have demanded all information about the decision-making behind Young’s new job, including how he fits the person specification.
Roberta Blackman-Woods, Labour chair of the Parliamentary University Group, has written to Jo Johnson, the minister for universities and science, to demand the release of the information.
Shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler said Young’s appointment should not be allowed to stand, given previous offensive remarks made about women and disabled people.
The government revealed earlier this week that Young would sit on the board of the newly-created body, which came into legal existence on Monday, alongside Ruth Carlson, a civil engineering student at Surrey University and Elizabeth Fagan, the senior vice president and managing director of Boots.
Education Secretary Justine Greening said the body will be tasked with ensuring the “world class reputation” of the UK’s universities is maintained.
Foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who used to edit The Spectator for which Young has been a regular contributor, condemned the “ridiculous outcry” that followed the announcement of his appointment.