Andrea Jenkyns said she had to ‘stand up for herself’ by giving the middle finger to a gathering outside Downing Street
The newly appointed UK education minister explained on Saturday why she gave the middle finger to a crowd outside Downing Street, saying she had to “stand up for herself.”
Andrea Jenkyns, a Tory MP, made the rude gesture on Thursday when a crowd booed her as she entered Downing Street to watch UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliver his resignation speech.
Responding to backlash over the incident, the minister said she had faced “huge amounts of abuse from some of the people who were there over the years,” adding that she had also received death threats. “I had reached the end of my tether,” she explained.
However, Jenkyns conceded that she “should have shown more composure,” adding that she is “only a human.”
Her latest apology, however, was considered inadequate by some representatives in the education sector. “In my 32 years as a teacher, 15 of them as headteacher, I inevitably dealt with moments of poor behavior and inappropriate conduct – from young people and staff,” Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said on Saturday, adding that “I’m only human” was never a good enough excuse.
Jenkyns’ comments came after Mark Spencer, the leader of the House of Commons, criticized her gesture as unacceptable. “I do understand emotions were running pretty high and they were pretty raw on that day,” he told BBC earlier, referring to the day of Boris Johnson’s resignation. “But I don’t think that was the right thing to do at all.”
Andrea Jenkyns was appointed as parliamentary undersecretary of state for education on July 8 when Boris Johnson had to reshuffle his government after a wave of cabinet resignations. The UK prime minister announced on Thursday that he would step down too, but will remain as party leader until a successor is selected, with a number of heavyweight British political figures scrambling to fill his shoes.