Education Secretary Gavin Williamson made the gaffe in an interview

Government minister mixes up Maro Itoje and Marcus Rashford

While many in UK politics are pondering  a potential cabinet reshuffle, a gaffe from one of the serving ministers has caused all sorts of headlines. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson held his hands up yesterday for confusing England and Saracens rugby star Maro Itoje with prominent footballer Marcus Rashford, calling it a “mistake”.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, Williamson said that he had met the England and Manchester United hero on a video conference call, saying: “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.” However, an aide later clarified to the Standard that the Zoom call had actually been with Itoje.

Footballer Rashford very famously forced a government about-face on free school meals provision during lockdown, while Itoje had advocated for poorer pupils to get better access to laptop computers during the pandemic.

In the wake of the interview, both athletes have managed to make jokes about it. Reacting with a cry-laughing emoji, Manchester-reared Rashford tweeted: “Accent could have been a giveaway.”

The British & Irish Lion stand-out Itoje, meanwhile, tweeted: “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.”

Last year, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock had to apologise for his own confusion over Rashford, calling him Daniel rather than Marcus.

Yesterday a spokesperson for Rashford said: “Whether it’s Daniel Rashford or a Maro Itoje reference, the message remains the same: Put our children first.”

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