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A British government minister has called on Downing Street to rethink its push to hire “weirdos and misfits” after a new adviser to Boris Johnson was exposed as having advocated racist and eugenicist views.
Andrew Sabisky, a 27-year-old self-described “superforecaster,” resigned as a government adviser on Monday night after media outlets unearthed his old online posts and interviews, revealing some troubling ideas.
He also suggested, in a comment on a blog the same year, introducing mandatory long-term contraception for women at puberty, to prevent “unplanned pregnancies creating a permanent underclass.” In an interview in 2016, he advocated universal use of the narcolepsy drug modafinil, for its alleged benefits to brain function — despite the medical risks involved.
“From a societal perspective, the benefits of giving everyone modafinil once a week are probably worth a dead kid once a year,” he wrote.
Amid growing outcry over the remarks, Sabinsky announced his resignation Monday night, tweeting: “The media hysteria about my old stuff online is mad but I wanted to help HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] not be a distraction. Accordingly I’ve decided to resign.”
His departure hasn’t brought an end to the matter: Senior figures within the Conservative government are criticizing the government’s recent push to hire maverick thinkers, saying it opens the door for dangerous ideologies to enter government.
Sabisky was hired as a contractor to Dominic Cummings, a controversial political strategist and Johnson’s top aide, after Cummings issued a call last month for “weirdos and misfits with odd skills” to join him in shaking up the government.
“It does seem that when the call went out for misfits and weirdos that’s exactly what Downing Street got,” Conservative MP Caroline Nokes told BBC’s Radio 4 Tuesday. “I’m disappointed.”
Business minister Kwasi Kwarteng said that the government’s hiring processes should be reviewed to “prevent racists from coming into No 10” Downing Street.
“His remarks were totally unacceptable. They were racist and they were offensive,” he told BBC Radio 5 Tuesday. “I think it’s unfortunate he was hired.”
Despite the uproar, Cumming was unrepentant when reporters confronted him on his London doorstep Tuesday. When one reporter asked him: “Have you got any more weirdos?” Johnson’s top adviser replied that reporters should read a book on “superforecasting,” rather than listen to “political pundits who don't know what they are talking about.”
Cover: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves at the media as he leaves 10 Downing Street in London, to attend the weekly Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament, in London, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)