Oxford uni chief unleashes new Brexit attack on Gove – ‘Embarrassed’ of him

African tutor at Oriel College Oxford says the university is 'tolerant and inclusive'

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The chief of the UK’s oldest university made the incendiary remarks at a panel event last night. Prof Louise Richardson took aim at the Cabinet minister as she blasted his claims in the 2016 vote campaign that people “have had enough of experts”.

Mr Gove made the comments three weeks before the UK voted to leave the EU.

After establishment figures and organisations lined up to criticise Brexit spring the campaign, the then Justice Secretary called on the British public to “trust themselves”.

He said: “I’m asking the British public to take back control of our destiny from those organisations which are distant, unaccountable, elitist and don’t have [the public’s] interests at heart.”

The comments are among the most notorious moments of the 2016 campaign.

Speaking yesterday on a panel alongside vice-chancellors from across the world Prof Richardson said the pandemic had shown the importance of experts.

Attacking Mr Gove, she said: “Michael Gove, the British Cabinet minister who I am embarrassed to confess we educated, famously said after it was pointed out to him by a journalist that all the experts opposed Brexit, he said: ‘Oh we’ve had enough of experts.’

“With the vaccine, it seems like the public can’t get enough of experts.

“Many of our scientists have become household names.

“We have demonstrated through the vaccine work and the development of therapeutics and so on just how much universities can contribute and that’s enormously helpful to our cause.”

Mr Gove studied English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford in the Eighties.

It was at the higher education institution he first met Boris Johnson, helping to elect him as President of the Oxford Union.

Mr Gove took on the role himself one year later.

Prof Richardson’s intervention at yesterday’s panel, which took place at Times Higher Education’s World Academic Summit, risks again opening up the University of Oxford to criticism for supporting the EU.

Supporters of Brexit have consistently accused the UK’s top universities of being too closely linked to Brussels.

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In the year before the referendum, the University of Oxford received £74million in funding from the EU.

The large sum equated to 14 percent of its research funding.

However, Prof Richardson also admitted universities had a problem when it comes to perceptions from the public and the institutions had to work hard to retain the support of Britons.

She said feelings that universities are too “woke” and out-of-touch was a serious problem.

The Oxford chief said: “Increasingly people are seeing that they haven’t gone to university and yet their taxes are paying for these utterly overprivileged students who want all kinds of protections that they never had and I think we have to take this seriously.”

She added: “I think we need more ideological diversity.

“We need to foster more open debate of controversial subjects.

“We need to teach our students how to engage civilly in reasoned debate with people with whom you disagree because, unless we do that, we are going to lose the public argument.”

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