Who is Michael Gove, did he take cocaine and what's he said about scrapping VAT?

MICHAEL Gove came third in the Conservative leadership race but has been appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster by new PM, Boris Johnson.

The Tory MP and Cabinet minister is among the most senior figures in the party and is said to have been tasked with no-deal Brexit plans by Boris — but what do we know about him?

Who is Michael Gove?

Michael Gove was born in Edinburgh in 1967 and brought up in Aberdeen.

Gove was appointed Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in Boris Johnson's new Cabinet this July.

He worked as a journalist upon leaving Oxford university, writing for local and national newspapers and appearing on radio and TV.

He worked at The Times, writing a weekly column for the newspaper.

He has a son, William, and daughter, Beatrice.

Gove was elected as an MP for Surrey Heath in 2005.

He went on to become Secretary of State for Education in 2010, Chief Whip in 2014 and Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice in 2015, before he was dismissed by Theresa May.

Following the 2017 General Election he was brought back with his appointment as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

What is his role in the Cabinet?

The primary role of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is to provide income for the queen – the role includes administering the estates and rents of the Duchy of Lancaster, but doesn’t actually play much of a role in the day-to-day management of the estates of the royals.

Key aspects of the job include, advising the PM on developing and implementing government policy, driving forward government business and implementation including chairing and deputy chairing Cabinet, committees and implementation taskforces.

Another key role of the job is overseeing devolution consequences of EU exit and overseeing constitutional affairs and maintaining the integrity of the Union.

Under Boris Johnson as PM, Gove has been instructed to "turbo-boost" plans for a no-deal Brexit.

Along with Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid, Gove has been tasked with pouring his full efforts into Brexit negotiations – Javid, who is in charge of the budget has been instructed to help Gove out with any funds a no-deal full efforts into Brexit negotiations – Javid, who is in charge of the budget has been instructed to help Gove out with any funds Brexit will require.

According to a spokesperson for Johnson, a total of £4.2 billion has already been allocated for no-deal planning, but Mr Gove will have access to further funds.

Did Michael Gove admit taking cocaine?

On June 7, 2017, Gove admitted taking cocaine in a bombshell confession dropped in the middle of the Tory leadership contest.

The would-be PM said he "deeply regrets" using the substance as a young journalist more than 20 years ago.

The astonishing revelation threatens to completely overshadow the environment secretary's formal campaign launch on Monday, with just hours to go before nominations close.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Gove said: "I took drugs on several occasions at social events more than 20 years. At the time I was a young journalist.

"It was a mistake. I look back and I think I wish I hadn't done that."

He added: “It was 20 years ago and yes, it was a mistake. But I don’t believe that past mistakes disqualify you.”

What was his role in Brexit?

Michael Gove took a prominent role in the campaign to leave the European Union.

He wrote a statement explaining why he disagreed with his friend and colleague David Cameron on the issue arguing that "Britain would be stronger outside the EU".

He backed the Leave campaign and then became the campaign manager to Boris Johnson when he launched his leadership bid following the vote to leave the EU in June 2016.

However Gove changed his mind and threw his own hat into the ring to be leader of the Conservatives, in what became a failed attempt.

After joining the leadership race for a second time on June 2, 2019, he said he's willing to delay Brexit for as long as needed to ensure a deal is agreed rather than just crashing out on October 31.

On June 8, Gove split the Tory party by saying he'd delay Brexit by months to secure an EU divorce deal.

He is posing as a "unifying candidate" and said: ""I believe that I'm ready to unite the Conservative and Unionist Party, ready to deliver Brexit, and ready to lead this great country."

Gove notably defended Theresa May's Brexit deal in the House of Commons.

Will Gove become the next PM?

Gove, the secretary of state for Defra, was at 5/1 odds to become the next Prime Minister, second only to colleague Boris Johnson.

But his cocaine confession has apparently seen his odds tumble to 20/1 – according to bookmakers on June 10, the day nominations were formally received.

What has he said about scrapping VAT?

On June 10, Gove announced his plan to scrap VAT if he makes it into Number 10.

The Environment Minister outlined his plan in the Sunday Telegraph to replace the tax with an alternative in a bid to drive productivity and increase investment.

He said his business expertise makes him the best candidate to be Prime Minister.

Gove wrote in the Telegraph: "My economic plan is driven by the need to increase investment, productivity and wages across the country, with a special focus on helping those areas and regions where productivity is lower.

"It would mean reducing the regulations which hold business back, cutting and reforming taxes – such as business rates – which put pressure on small businesses and undermine our high streets, using the opportunity of life outside the EU to look to replace VAT with a lower, simpler, sales tax."

Who is his wife?

Michael Gove is married to Sarah Vine, a columnist for the Daily Mail.

She is thought to be influential in steering her husband's political career.

Sarah came out in favour of Leave in the UK referendum on EU membership.

She has come under fire for a number of controversial articles – including one on the meeting between Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon.

It was reported last year that Samantha Cameron vowed to never again speak to Gove and his wife over his “treacherous” bid for the Tory leadership.

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