Jacob Rees-Mogg has said that Eton “work very well” without girls, dismissing calls by the education secretary to make the school mixed-sex.
Rees-Mogg, a former Etonian, spoke out after Gavin Williamson suggested it would be a “great step forward” if the elite schooling institute altered its admissions policy to include female students.
Boris Johnson, David Cameron, Harold Macmillan and William Gladstone are among the 20 prime ministers who studied there.
Williamson, who attended a comprehensive in Scarborough, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday that he was “very much in favour of Eton taking girls”.
But the Commons leader hastily disagreed.
“Much though I might like my own daughter to go there, I think it works very well as it is, thank you very much,” he told MPs.
Downing Street has said that while single-sex schools were important, it would support Eton if it changed its policies.
“We have said consistently single-sex schools are an important part of our diverse education system and it is right that parents have the opportunity to make decisions about the type of school that their children attend,” the spokesman said.
“If Eton were to become a mixed-sex school we would obviously support that decision, but it is a matter for Eton as an independent school to set their own admission criteria.”