Nadhim Zahawi nodded in agreement when BBC presenter Charlie Stayt stopped him mid-sentence and told him he did not “really understand” what he was talking about.
During an appearance on BBC Breakfast, Stayt suggested the education secretary was not making sense when speaking about teachers’ wages.
“I don’t really understand what you’re saying if I’m honest with you,” the presenter said.
Stayt had told Zahawi that the government’s promise to create a high-wage and high-skilled workforce is only good news for a few teachers, as most of them are currently facing a “pay freeze”.
He said: “You will know very well that if you have a pay freeze now, inflation is going up – you’re worse off.
“Given that teachers have a pay freeze, how are they going to gain from the prime minister’s mantra of higher wages?”
Zahawi replied: “Teachers have done a phenomenal job. Starting jobs will touch £30,000. We’re pretty much almost there now. We’ll make sure we get there.”
But Stayt said: “We’re asking for specifics if you don’t mind. My understanding is that teachers will get £30,000 in 2024. Is that correct?”
Zahawi said he cannot give a specific answer until there is a spending review, and added: “You’re right there has been a pay freeze, from 2021 back to 2019-2020, the increase is about seven per cent because teachers have a path to increasing their salary as they improve and extend their experience.”
Stayt jumped in and said he did not understand what he was saying – to which Zahawi responded: “Sure” and nodded.
The discussion came Boris Johnson revealed a £3,000 premium to encourage science and maths teachers to work in disadvantaged areas.
But the government later added this would be a one-off payment between £1,000 and £3,000, and only for teachers in the first five years of their career.
The move comes only a year after scrapping a similar scheme.
National Insurance hike
Speaking at the Tory Party conference, Johnson said there is “absolutely no reason” why some UK children should “lag behind”.
He added: “To level up — on top of the increase which means every teacher starts with a salary of £30,000, we’re announcing today a levelling up premium of up to £3,000 to send maths and science teachers to the places that need them most.”
It comes after last month, the Tories broke their 2019 election manifesto to not increase taxes by announcing a National Insurance increase representing the biggest tax hike since the Second World War.
In an LBC video from 2019, Johnson insisted: “Read my lips, we will not be raising taxes on income, on VAT or National Insurance”.
Related: WATCH: ‘Not everyone will pay, but everyone will benefit from tax hike’ – Johnson