Gavin Williamson breaks silence as Marcus Rashford and Maro Itoje respond to his mistake

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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he had met England footballer Marcus Rashford online when he had in fact met rugby player Maro Itoje  (ES)
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he had met England footballer Marcus Rashford online when he had in fact met rugby player Maro Itoje (ES)

Gavin Williamson has spoken out after he confused Manchester United hero Marcus Rashford for England rugby star Maro Itoje.

Mr Williamson said he made a “genuine mistake” after both sports stars tweeted in response to the Education Secretary’s blunder in an exclusive interview with The Evening Standard.

Breaking his silence, the politician said he had huge respect for both Mr Rashford and Mr Itoje for their inspiring campaigns.

“Towards the end of a wide-ranging interview in which I talked about both the laptops and school meals campaigns, I conflated the issues and made a genuine mistake,” he said.

“We corrected this with the journalist before publication of the story. I have huge respect for both Marcus Rashford and Maro Itoje who run effective and inspiring campaigns.”

Both sports stars poked fun at the error on social media in response.

Mr Rashford wrote with a laughing emoji: “Accent could have been a giveaway.”

Itoje also joked: “Due to recent speculation I thought it was necessary to confirm that I am not Marcus Rashford… And whilst we are here my name is not Mario either!!

“Just a simple Maro Itoje will do… Much love, Marcu… I mean Maro Itoje.”

It comes after Mr Williamson made the mix up when he wrongly claimed he had met Mr Rashford to discuss a review of free school meals policy.

Mr Rashford was a strong critic of Mr Williamson’s handling of school meals during the pandemic.

The Cabinet minister said: “We met over Zoom and he seemed incredibly engaged, compassionate and charming but then he had to shoot off. I didn’t want to be the one that was holding him back from his training,”

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