Guardian satirist John Crace on today in Parliament:
“… At departmental questions, the education secretary appeared completely out of his depth. No real surprise as Damian Hinds has made a career out of being entirely forgettable. So anonymous that not even his reflection recognises him. A man who makes the prime minister look vaguely sentient. A man of untapped levitas who can barely be trusted to give anything more than the blandest of answers to any given question. A beta version of a beta cabinet minister.
Hinds got off to a good enough start as the first question was officially withdrawn. Tory Ben Bradley had clearly decided there was no point in asking what steps the department had taken to strengthen the teaching profession as the answer was so obviously none. Why would it? Far too much like hard work.
Thereafter, the education secretary failed to explain anything satisfactorily. Fewer children were learning languages as it was more important that foreigners learned English. The reason so many schools were badly funded was that they wouldn’t have anything to complain about if they had proper resources.
To his credit, though, Hinds has managed to mould his department in his own image. Every one of his ministerial team is almost as hopeless as him. Anne Milton appears to have given up almost entirely and devoted her life to taking large quantities of Quaaludes. Her speech is one long unintelligible drawl. “Dudes-I-want-to-congra-congratch-congatchulate-someone-for-doing-somethink-but-I-can’t-quite-remember-what,” she slurred. No one even pretended to understand.
Luckily for Hinds and his team it was left to higher education minister, Chris Skidmore, to do most of the heavy lifting both in departmental questions and the urgent question that followed. Labour’s Angela Rayner and other opposition MPs wanted to know the truth behind weekend cabinet leaks that the government was planning to end reciprocal funding arrangements for EU and UK university students from 2020/21.
Skidmore imagines himself to be a skilful operator from the dispatch box, but the reality is that he has drunk the same brain-deadening Kool-Aid as everyone else. English is at best his second language. Complete fuckwittery being the first.
“Going forward,” he said. Going forward it was regrettable that the leak had been leaked but going forward no decision had been made but going forward it would do no harm to sting EU students for as much cash as possible but going forward it would be discriminating against overseas students if we going forward didn’t discriminate against EU students as well but going forward it would be great if only rich UK students studied abroad as going forward Europe was a bad place for poor people and going forward we were going to make a success of Brexit.
It was all nonsense but it was still the best part of an hour before the Speaker put an end to Skidmore’s agony. He left the chamber with a look of triumph, too lacking in self-awareness to be chastened by his humiliation. In any case, on Tuesday it would be another minister’s turn to demonstrate that the government didn’t know what it was doing.”