It was an unconventional start to the day for Michael Gove this morning. The veteran minister appeared on BBC Breakfast to deny whispers within Whitehall of an 'emergency Budget,' slapping down such talk by using a bizarre array of accents that ranged from American to Harry Enfield's infamous 'Scousers' impersonation. Gove told listeners across the country that:
“We are constantly looking at ideas in order to ensure that we relieve the pressure on people who are facing incredibly tough times, but that doesn’t amount to an ‘emergency budget’, which is what some people immediately thought that it did. It is an example of some commentators chasing their own tails and trying to take a statement that is commonsensical, turning it into a major – capital letters – Big News Story, and, in fact, when the Treasury quite rightly say ‘calm down’ then people instead of recognising that they’ve overinflated the story in the first place, then say ‘oh this is clearly a split’.
Such was the performance that even Dan Walker, the BBC Breakfast host who grilled him, was moved to tweet:
'I’ve watched our interview back a few times now. Still trying to work out what happened. I hope Mr Gove is OK.'
The Secretary of State for Levelling Up has long been regarded as HM Government's best media performer – but is that still the case?
Boris Johnson's spokesman would only tell the lobby today that 'Michael Gove is an effective cabinet communicator. He uses a variety of means to get the message across.' Pressed as to whether he uses similar accents in Cabinet meetings, they replied drily 'not in the ones I've been at.'
Given his known love of clubbing, perhaps the Surrey MP has had one night out on the town too many.