Jacob Rees-Mogg has clashed with a Sky News presenter over plans by Liz Truss to axe Whitehall diversity officers.
The Brexit opportunities minister described the posts as “a job creation scheme created by the woke for the woke”.
Tory leadership hopeful Truss unveiled the move as part of a pledge to save up to £11bn a year through a “war on Whitehall waste”.
Her campaign said they would get rid of the 326 diversity officers employed by government departments, potentially saving £12 million.
Asked to justify the move by Sky presenter Kamali Melbourne, Rees-Mogg said: “Ensuring that you have diversity within employment is the job of people making the employment decisions, not somebody who is employed as a diversity officer.”
Melbourne responded: “Aren’t they the experts in how you make sure a workplace is diverse?”
Rees-Mogg said: “No, I don’t think it works like that. I think you need to inculcate this in the people making the decisions and in the Civil Service Commission to make sure that you are employing the best people from a range of backgrounds.”
He added: “We had a training programme called ‘Check Yo’ Privilege’. Now, what on earth is that?”
Melbourne responded: “It’s about checking your privilege, I think.”
But Rees-Mogg went on: “Why is the civil service wasting people’s time with a course that doesn’t help people do their jobs better?
“What do we want from the civil service? We want people to get their passports on time, we want people to get their driving licence on time, we want the probate service to work - all of which have had problems in the last few months.”
Melbourne interjected: “We also want it to be a workplace where people are from different backgrounds, from diverse backgrounds, where people feel comfortable to work and won’t feel they are being stigmatised by their colleagues.”
Rees-Mogg replied: “That isn’t a job you give to somebody and then lock them away in a private room to cogitate about it.
“That is something you have in the fundamentals of it in the people making employment decisions.”
Melbourne then said: “You’re not going to get very far if you cut all the diversity officers who are working towards that though, are you?”
Rees-Mogg hit back: “Yes, because I don’t believe they’re doing anything useful. I don’t believe they’re adding to the diversity of the civil service.
“It’s a job creation scheme created by the woke for the woke.”
Rees-Mogg said: “I think she’s very often wrong, she’s always moaning and we need to focus on how the union benefits people.”