Michael Gove has defended university tuition fees, a day after Theresa May's most senior minister suggested the government could review the decision to raise fees to £9,000.
Gove told the BBC it was unfair to place extra tax burdens on those who did not individually benefit from a university education.
“If we have to fund higher education, and if people who get university degrees go on to earn well, they should pay something back, which is what the current system does,” the environment secretary told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show.
“It’s wrong if people who don’t go to university find that they have to pay more in taxation to support those who do.”
University fees were raised to £9,000 per year under the coalition government in 2010.
Gove's remarks came after a tentative U-turn on the divisive issue was hinted at by his cabinet colleague Damian Green. The first secretary of state – seen as the prime minister's second-in-command – appeared to indicate a shift in the government position on fees.
Talking at the Bright Blue think tank in central London, he said there needed to be a national debate on fees in the wake of the disastrous election result for the Tories, where the majority of younger voters supported Labour.
Labour's election manifesto included a pledge to abolish fees altogether. Addressing a huge anti-austerity protest outside parliament yesterday, the party's leader Jeremy Corbyn reiterated that a Labour government would end fees.
Liberal Democrat MP Vince Cable, who's currently running to lead the party, defended his party's decision to raise fees with the Tory government, and called Corbyn's promise a"cheap populist measure".
"The Labour party have a ridiculously populist programme, which doesn’t really stand up to investigation," Cable told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme. "I mean, if you don’t have any form of fees, then who pays for universities?”
Gove and Cable's comments attracted some criticism online.
Rose Troup Buchanan is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Rose Troup Buchanan at Rose.Buchanan@BuzzFeed.com.
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