Michael Gove ‘savage’ in briefing against devolved government ministers
Michael Gove was “savage” in briefing against ministers from devolved governments, it has been claimed.
The former Minister for Intergovernmental Relations was described as the unofficial First Minister of England because he would often liaise between the UK Government and those of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The President of the Scottish National Party, Michael Russell, said however that Michael Gove would be “charming to your face” and then “go out and brief savagely against you”
He said that the phrase “you’ve been Gove’d” was coined by former Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews who was Michael Gove’s equivalent in Wales between 2009 and 2013.
Michael Russell, who was the Scottish education minister during the same period, told the Institute for Government that he himself had been on the receiving end of Michael Gove’s incessant briefing.
“I’ve spent a lot of my political career shadowing Michael Gove in one thing or another, regrettably,” he said. “But one area where he had very little influence on me was when I was education secretary and he was education secretary.
“He did not deal with higher education; I dealt with the whole gamut. But on the schools side, there was virtually nothing. So we could have conversations, but they were irrelevant.
“I always felt sorry for Leighton Andrews and the Northern Ireland education minister, John O’Dowd, because they had the exams system in common [with England].
“Leighton Andrews used to have a phrase, ‘you’ve been Gove’d’, because whatever you did, Gove would be charming to your face and would then go out and brief savagely against you and that’s just how things were and how he is.”
The claim is published as the Institute for Government releases a series of interviews as part of its Ministers Reflect series.
Michael Russell added that the main difference between the governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson had been their attitude towards devolution.
“There was a recognition under May, no matter how limited and grudging, of the legitimate interests of the devolved governments and their rights,” he said.
“Whereas there was nothing but contempt for devolution from the Johnson government, expressed at every level even by the territorial secretaries of state.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.