Jake Berry said civil servants who enjoy flexible working – something the Tory government wants to make easier – are simply being ‘woke’
A Tory former minister has been ridiculed for telling civil servants to stop “woke-ing” from home.
MP Jake Berry was accused of launching a “culture war” on hard-working Brits after dismissing people who choose flexible work.
The Tory government is planning to strengthen the right to request flexible working from Day One in a job.
But the former Northern Powerhouse Minister dismissed home working as a “woke” pastime.
He told a fringe at the Conservative Party Conference: “I just think we’ve got to move away from this, you know, ‘I want to work from home’ attitude if we want a productive Britain.
“Many people – factory workers in my constituency, people working in our shops, people working in our public services – need to get back to work. And the government can give leadership here.
“Because we absolutely have to get the civil service back into the office. It’s time to end the Whitehall ‘woke-ing’ from home culture – sorry, working from home culture, but it really is majority ‘woke-ing’ from home.”
Mr Berry left social media users baffled by his comments, and he was condemned by the leader of the senior civil servants’ union.
FDA general secretary Dave Penman tweeted: “You can just smell the desperation in their argument when they need to invent a culture war to justify their point.”
Tim Durrant of the Institute for Government added: “The breakdown in trust and respect between civil servants and the government’s backbenches is possibly one of the most damaging impacts of the Brexit years.
“Attacks like this are wrong as well as laughable – officials have been working (from wherever) as hard as anyone else during Covid.”
Campaign group Best for Britain added: “Always amazed by politicians, who rely on civil servants to deliver their goals, going out of their way to insult their workforce.
“Civil servants have heroically coped with unprecedented pressure, workloads and change in the last few years. MPs would do well to grasp that.”