Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

The next test for Cameron in school extremism row

Downing Street wants to move the May/Gove feud away from two ministers at war and back onto the substantive issue of extremism in Birmingham Schools.

Naturally Cabinet ministers at war is a storyline the Prime Minister would like to end. But that doesn’t mean that the statement the Education Secretary gives this afternoon will move the government into more comfortable terrain.

Both Labour and the Lib Dems are likely to use this row to argue for better oversight of academies and free schools (although not all the schools involved in the investigation were free from local authority oversight). Though David Blunkett’s proposals for better oversight aren’t a million miles away from what the Tories have already introduced, Gove will inevitably come under attack from all sides for his preference for structuring supervision the way he has. When he does, David Cameron will hope other ministerial colleagues will have been sufficiently warned off beefing against the Education Secretary by the events of the weekend. But there’s a test for the PM, too. Does he stick by his minister, or bow to calls from others for a new structure for supervision?

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