Oxford: Boris Johnson backs opposition to removal of Queen portrait

9 June 2021, 16:02

Boris Johnson supports Gavin Williamson&squot;s branding of the move as "absurd"
Boris Johnson supports Gavin Williamson's branding of the move as "absurd". Picture: PA

By Daisy Stephens

Boris Johnson has said he supports the Education Secretary’s criticism of Oxford University students who voted to remove a photo of the Queen from their common room, according to Downing Street.

A spokesperson from Number 10 has confirmed that the Prime Minister supports Gavin Williamson’s views on the removal of the photo, which he called "simply absurd".

The spokesperson said: "You have had the Education Secretary's words, which the PM supports."

Members of Magdalen College Middle Common Room (MCR), which is made up of graduate students, overwhelmingly voted to remove the portrait of the Queen from their common room.

On Tuesday evening, Mr Williamson tweeted: "Oxford University students removing a picture of the Queen is simply absurd.

"She is the Head of State and a symbol of what is best about the UK.

"During her long reign she has worked tirelessly to promote British values of tolerance, inclusivity and respect around the world."

Read more: Patients face postcode lottery for cancer treatment with trusts missing targets

Read more: Covid: Passengers on UK cruise ship banned from Scotland due to restrictions

He has since faced criticism from the University and College Union (UCU), which said the comments were a "distraction from the disastrous, systemic failings this Government has presided over in higher education".

General secretary Jo Grady said: "Williamson styles himself as a champion of free speech and academic freedom, but never misses an opportunity to attack staff and students who are merely exercising these rights.

"As university staff have already pointed out, this Government doesn't care about freedom of speech on campus, and its attempts to change the law should be seen as nothing other than a Trojan horse for policing what students and staff can and cannot do."

Barrister Dinah Rose, president of the college, said that staff had received "threatening messages" over the controversy.

She tweeted: "If you are one of the people currently sending obscene and threatening messages to the college staff, you might consider pausing, and asking yourself whether that is really the best way to show your respect for the Queen.

"Or whether she'd be more likely to support the traditions of free debate and democratic decision-making that we are keeping alive at Magdalen."

Read more: Ryanair and BA investigated for refusing refunds during pandemic

Read more: Covid: Govt contract for firm run by Cummings' friends was unlawful, High Court rules

In a series of tweets, she emphasised that the students are not representative of the college, but added: "Magdalen strongly supports free speech and political debate, and the MCR's right to autonomy.

"Maybe they'll vote to put it up again, maybe they won't.

"Meanwhile, the photo will be safely stored."

She concluded that being a student is about "exploring and debating ideas" and often about "provoking the older generation", adding: "Looks like that isn't so hard to do these days."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

A-level pupils are being warned grades will take a hit this year with thousands set to lose their university place

A-level students warned thousands will lose their university place on results day as grades set to take a hit

Sir Keir Starmer has set out Labour's £29 billion emergency cost of living plan

'Consumers won't pay a penny more': Keir Starmer reveals Labour's £29 billion emergency cost of living plan

A man died early Sunday near the US Capitol building after driving his car into a barricade and firing shots into the air before turning his gun on himself, police said

Man dies after crashing vehicle into US Capitol and opening fire before shooting himself

Schools across the country are holding 'crisis meetings' to consider three-day working weeks amid soaring costs

Schools hold 'crisis talks' to consider three-day weeks as teacher salaries and soaring energy bills cripple budgets

The Met Office have issued weather warnings for thunderstorms across the UK

End of Britain's bake off: Flash flood warnings in place as thunderstorms set to batter UK with torrential rain and hail

Ricardo Dos Santos slams Met after seven armed officer used for stop and search

'He was ready to smash the glass': Ricardo Dos Santos slams Met after 7 armed officers used during stop and search

The youngster was attacked by the Bull Mastiff-type animal (stock picture) in Liverpool.

Boy, 4, suffers life-changing injuries as he's mauled by dog in horrific attack 'at friend's house'

The woman was restrained on a Jet2 flight from Cyprus to Manchester.

Woman 'who stripped to underwear and tried to storm Jet2 cockpit' is restrained by hero dad

Eight people have been injured after a gunman opened fire at a bus stop in Jerusalem.

Gunman opens fire at bus stop in Jerusalem wounding eight people

Food campaigner Jack Monroe spoke with Ben Kentish on LBC.

Jack Monroe hits out at 'tone deaf' Govt and slams energy companies for 'playing us for fools'

Police were called to the incident in Nottingham Road, Ilkeston.

Mum and two kids left 'covered in blood' in brutal dog attack as cops arrest owner

Jerry Sadowitz had his second show cancelled by Edinburgh Fringe.

Comedian Jerry Sadowitz's Edinburgh Fringe show axed by venue bosses for 'unacceptable material'

Salman Rushdie has been taken off his ventilator after he was stabbed on stage in New York.

Salman Rushdie's injuries 'severe' but condition 'heading in right direction' after horror New York stabbing

Rishi Sunak has warned the stabbing of Salman Rushdie should act as a "a wake-up call for the West"

Salman Rushdie stabbing should be a 'wake up call for the West' says Sunak, as he calls for sanctions on Iran

A dog show has come under fire for going ahead in the blistering 35C heat

Dog show slammed for going ahead during 35C heatwave despite RSPCA health warning

Plaid Cymru leader calls for MP Jonathan Edwards to resign after assaulting wife

Plaid Cymru leader calls for MP to 'resign immediately' after receiving police caution for assaulting wife