Minister apologizes for anti-LGBTQ remarks as 3 others say they won't return
Caretaker Minister Arie Slob (Education) said he made a mistake last year in the debate about anti-LGBTQ+ statements, in which schools asked students and their parents to distance themselves from homosexuality. According to Slob, he created the impression that he supported those statements, which was in "no way" the case. He did not want to speculate on a possible position in the new cabinet, after Minsters Stef Blok, Henk Kamp, and Ben Knapen said that they would not be returning.
The schools that use the anti-LGBTQ+ statements do so based on the fundamental right of freedom to education. Slob, affiliated with the ChristenUnie, said he only wanted to explain how the constitution works, but that he was "too instrumental" in doing so. According to him, the impression arose that he would approve of these statements. "And I gave rise to that myself," he admitted. According to him, there is "no way' that he supports such statements.
During a debate on the subject on Thursday, the Minister briefly discussed the fundamental right to freedom of education, which some parties want to "modernize". Slob said that this fundamental right is "very dear" to him and that it was even included in the election program of his party, the ChristenUnie. "But with freedom comes responsibility." According to the Minister, a school undermines educational freedom if it does not take that responsibility. "You're not even worth having that freedom," said Slob.
On Friday, Minsters Stef Blok (Economic Affairs - VVD), Henk Kamp (Defense - VVD), and Ben Knapen (Foreign Affairs - CDA) said that they do not want to return as cabinet members once the new government is formed. On Thursday it was announced that the VVD, D66, CDA and ChristenUnie will negotiate a restart of the current caretaker cabinet.
"It really was only for a while, because the need was urgent," said Knapen (70) before the start of the Council of Ministers. He succeeded Sigrid Kaag last month. She resigned after parliament censured her over the chaotic evacuation policy in Afghanistan. Knapen was previously State Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
Minister of Defense Henk Kamp (69) is also not available. He succeeded CDA Minister Ank Bijleveld in September after the VVD asked him to. Bijleveld also received a motion of censure from parliament over Afghanistan. Kamp has been Minister in various Ministries and cabinets since 2002.
"I do not want to return to a new cabinet. I have been a Minister for nine years and it is a special honor, but it is also nice when it is time for something different," said Blok (56). He actually wanted to quit in 2017 after the second Rutte cabinet, but was asked to return as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the spring of 2018. He had to succeed Halbe Zijlstra because he had lied about a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
State Secretary Dilan Yesilgöz (Economic Affairs - VVD), Minister Sander Dekker (Legal Protection - VVD) and Ministers Carola Schouten (Agriculture - ChristenUnie), Ingrid van Engelshoven (Education - D66) and Arie Slob (Education-Christian Union) did not want to anticipate any post in a new cabinet. However, many ministers emphasized that there will really be a "new cabinet, with new people". There is no question of a restart, they believe.
"I never say no, but do realize that I will be 75 in two months," says Ankie Broekers-Knol, the VVD State Secretary for Justice.
Reporting by ANP