Schools minister Nick Gibb point-blank refused to answer a simple multiplication question on Good Morning Britain – despite giving an interview in which he insisted on the importance of eight and nine-year-olds learning their times tables.
“What’s eight times nine?” asked Jeremy Kyle, who is helping to fill in for Piers Morgan this week.
With a look of alarm, the government minister responded with a classic politician’s non-answer: “I’m not going to get into this. I’ve learned through bitter experience never to answer these kinds of questions.”
Cutting across Kyle’s outraged comeback, Kate Garraway guessed: “You don’t want to get into it because you’re worried you might get it wrong.”
“Yep. Correct,” Gibb said.
As he (presumably) frantically worked out the maths problem in his head, Gibb insisted there was no hypocrisy about telling school kids to learn their times tables when he’d managed to forge a successful career without being able to multiply eight and nine on the spot.
“No eight year old or nine year old would be doing it on live television,” he said. “I do know the answer to these questions but I’m not going to do so on live television.”
It’s 72, by the way.