Gove insists Braverman is 'first-rate politician' as pressure mounts over reappointment
Sky News

Michael Gove is back. Back on the front benches, back on the morning media round, and back raising eyebrows.

Rishi Sunak’s new Levelling Up Secretary appeared on Sunday’s breakfast shows to lay into Liz Truss, defend the controversial re-appointment of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary and confirm his disco-dancing plans.

So what, if anything, did we learn from his discussions with the likes of Laura Kuenssberg and Sophy Ridge?

Well, to start with, we doubt he’ll be getting a Christmas card from Truss this year.

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Gove, who was banished from the Cabinet during her short-lived reign as PM, denounced her appointment to the top job as a “mistake”.

Speaking to Ridge on Sky, he explicitly apologised on behalf of his Tory party for installing her as its leader, reiterating comments he made in an op-ed for The Sun.

He wrote in his piece: “We made the wrong choice this summer about the path we should take. Plans to cut taxes targeted on the richest were a holiday from reality.

“A mini-budget that didn’t explain how spending plans would be paid for was an error. To put it mildly.”

His ruthless criticism of his former Cabinet colleague proved divisive on Twitter, with some users praising his honesty while others lambasted his “back-stabbing” and accused him of insulting the Conservative Party members who voted for Truss.

However, he trod more carefully when discussing the alleged hacking of Truss’s personal mobile phone by Russian agents.

Questioned on reports of the attack, which allegedly took place over the summer, he told Ridge: “I don’t know the full details of what security breach, if any, took place.

“What I do know is that the Government has very robust protocols in place in order to make sure that individuals are protected, but also that Government security and national security are protected as well.”

His response was, unsurprisingly, not reassuring to scores of Twitter users, who demanded to know more of the “details” he claimed to be ignorant of:

Moving on (and giving Liz a bit of a break), what also got tongues furiously wagging was Gove’s defence of Braverman, who Sunak re-hired to one of the most important jobs in Government just six days after she was forced to resign over a security breach.

The Levelling Up Secretary described the MP – whose stance on immigration has earnt her the nickname “Cruella” – as a “first-rate, front-rank politician”.

Braverman who, earlier this month, said seeing a flight take asylum seekers to Rwanda was her “dream”, stepped down as Home Secretary after it emerged that she’d sent a sensitive document to a Tory backbencher from a personal email without permission.

Addressing her speedy return to Government, Gove told Ridge: “She acknowledged that a mistake had been made. She is working hard in order to ensure that our borders can be made more secure, and that policing is more effective.

“She’s a valued member of the Cabinet and someone whom I admire and like.”

Doubling-down on his charm offensive, he told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that Braverman is “absolutely” a politician of integrity.

Kuenssberg challenged Gove over the Home Secretary’s claim that she immediately reported her mistake, showing him an email from Braverman asking: “Can you delete the message and ignore?”

He replied: “I’m sure there’d be all sorts of inferences that people can draw, but it would seem to me on the basis of the facts that I know, that would have been quite proper for the Home Secretary to have said to the recipient of something that was sent an error ‘please do delete and ignore it’. That is standard practice.”

Gove added the message was intended for another parliamentarian and “so it’s not as though it was being sent out into the ether to persons unknown”.

He continued: “I am satisfied, more than satisfied, that in resigning, accepting responsibility, apologising, and then in being assured by the Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister that Suella coming back into office was the right thing, that Suella is now in a position to do the work that she is dedicated to doing.”

Suffice it to say, plenty of viewers were decidedly not satisfied with his conclusion:

However, Gove did at least give one answer that will offer relief to many.

In a nod to his notorious appearance on an Aberdeen dancefloor back in August, Ridge asked if he would be spending less time in nightclubs now he was back on the front benches.

Breaking out into a wry smile, he replied simply: "Yes."

It is a simple and fundamental principle that the government derives its democratic legitimacy from the people. The future of the country must not be decided by plotting and U-turns at Westminster; it must be decided by the people in a general election. And for this reason The Independent is calling for an election to be held. Have your say and sign our election petition by clicking here.

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