Veterans Minister Johnny Mercer has been criticised after comparing a new 25-year-old MP to The Inbetweeners.
Mr Mercer referenced the show – which Channel 4 describes as “an adolescent comedy about lads behaving sadly” – in an interview with Sky News after Labour’s Keir Mather won the seat of Selby and Ainsty from the Tories.
But he has faced a backlash, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer overheard calling the minister a “silly sod” who would “soon be history”.
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Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry also described Mr Mercer as a “twit”, telling Sky News the remark was “ridiculous” and if voters wanted to give him a chance, “what’s the matter with this guy?”.
She added: “You should have people representing this country from all backgrounds, all walks of life and, frankly, every generation.
“There is great intergenerational injustice in this country. Youngsters are having a really hard time and they need to have a good strong voice.”
Mr Mather will become the youngest MP in the Commons – nicknamed “the baby of the House” – when he enters parliament after the summer recess.
His historic win in North Yorkshire saw Labour overturn a majority of 20,137 – the largest majority ever reversed at a by-election.
Before being elected, he worked as a senior public affairs adviser for the Confederation of British Industry and before that, he was a parliamentary researcher for shadow health secretary Wes Streeting.
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Asked by Sky News’ deputy political editor Sam Coates this morning whether he welcomed “an injection of youth into parliament”, Mr Mercer replied: “I think it’s always good to get new people in politics, but I think we mustn’t become a repeat of The Inbetweeners.”
The Inbetweeners was a Channel 4 comedy about four socially awkward teenage boys during their time in sixth form.
Asked what he meant by the comparison, Mr Mercer said: “You’ve got to have people who have actually done stuff. This guy has been at Oxford University more than he’s been in a job.
“You put a chip in him there and he just relays Labour lines, and the problem is people have kind of had enough of that.”
Sitting beside him in the Sky News election studio, Labour’s Baroness Chapman accused Mr Mercer of being “disrespectful” to the people of Selby and Ainsty, adding: “There is such a thing as being gracious in defeat, Johnny.”
Mr Mather’s mother, Jill Tambarros, also defended her son after his significant victory, telling Sky News he had “seen something of life” and had numerous jobs.