HENRY DEEDES sees former Cabinet minister get a grilling
Michael Gove displays stately charm of a high vizier: HENRY DEEDES sees former Cabinet minister get a grilling
Few in this government rile the Opposition quite like Michael Gove.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as he is these days, is a wind-up par excellence. A maestro at getting under rivals’ finger nails.
When appearing at the despatch box, he does not shout or lose his rag. Nor does he rise to abuse.
Instead, he is a model of stately courtesy, bowing and scraping with the affected charm of a grand high vizier. It drives his opponents potty.
As minister in charge of No Deal planning, Mr Gove was yesterday required to make a statement to the House after Angela Merkel scotched any chance of a deal earlier that morning.
While most would sooner elect to wash the unmentionables of those skanky Extinction Rebellion irritants, Mr Gove takes to these tasks with unnatural relish.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, as Michael Gove (pictured) is these days, is a wind-up par excellence. A maestro at getting under rivals’ finger nails. Pictured on October 8 with Sir Nicholas Soames, circled, resting his eyes
After arriving a tad flustered, we were given a typically florid statement. Sir Nicholas Soames (Ind, Mid Sussex) fell into a blissful post-prandial slumber.
There were murmurs of approval when Mr Gove mentioned Argentinian wine under No Deal would become cheaper. Labour’s Brexit know-all, Sir Keir Starmer (Holborn and St Pancras), a small-glass-at-Christmas-only man one suspects, wasn’t happy.
‘The Prime Minister should be here,’ he said solemnly. ‘He should be here to account for his actions.’
This was supposed to be a chance to enquire about No Deal planning but naturally Sir Keir was out to score points. He accused Mr Gove of issuing his statement as though reading a bedtime story. Various Doomsday No Deal scenarios were then trotted out.
Mr Gove thanked him for his response. Perhaps, he suggested, if Sir Keir was so keen on not leaving the EU without a deal he shouldn’t have deliberately scuppered cross-party discussions during the summer.
Sir Keir, of course, hopes to stop us leaving altogether. The SNP’s Tommy Sheppard (Edinburgh East) claimed that No Deal had been the Government’s plan all along. Thanks so much for the query, Mr Gove simpered before dismissing the SNP as a bunch of hypocrites.
There were also carps directed at ragtag Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings (pictured), who’d been fingered for issuing an aggressive briefing against Brussels earlier that morning
Hilary Benn (Lab, Leeds Central), who congratulated Mr Gove on his ‘beguiling manner at the despatch box’, tried to embarrass him by pointing out his previous opposition to no deal. Mr Gove: ‘I am grateful, as ever, for the thoughtful tone…’
Some predictably foamy contributions followed. Yvette Cooper (Lab, Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) fumed about intelligence sharing. Helen Goodman (Lab, Bishop Auckland) railed on behalf of hill farmers.
Anna Soubry (Change UK, Broxtowe) – well, Soubers was her usual self. There were also carps directed at ragtag Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings, who’d been fingered for issuing an aggressive briefing against Brussels earlier that morning.
Mr Gove’s (pictured) loquaciousness departed him briefly when Barry Sheerman (Lab, Huddersfield) asked if it was true the country was led by a man ‘he neither likes nor trusts’
Delicate flower Chris Leslie accused the Government of briefing against Mrs Merkel and urged Mr Gove to condemn any racist language which had been directed towards Germans as result. Mr Gove insisted Germany was ‘our friend, our ally and a great country.’
At this point, the Speaker Bercow had to stick his oar in, reminding members of the importance of ‘decorous language’.
Incidentally, in the Lords earlier Lord Fowler paid tribute to one of Bercow’s predecessors, Lady Boothroyd, who was celebrating her 90th birthday.
As dear old Betty smiled coyly, Fowler described her as a ‘role model for all Parliamentarians – Speakers included’. Throaty gurgles of laughter echoed around the Chamber.
Mr Gove’s loquaciousness departed him briefly when Barry Sheerman (Lab, Huddersfield) asked if it was true the country was led by a man ‘he neither likes nor trusts’.
Mr Gove, cheeks delightfully rouged, was stumped. Eventually he muttered something about the Prime Minister being a man he admired. Mr Sheerman, thrilled by the minister’s discomfiture, afforded himself a hearty chuckle.
Later that evening, Parliament was prorogued by the men in funny hats and once again the chamber falls empty for a week.
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