Michael gove

Watch: highlights of Boris Johnson’s conference speech

So that’s it. The end. Tory conference wraps up today with Boris Johnson delivering a policy-light leader’s speech to close the four day Conservative jamboree in Manchester. Surrounded by campaign placards like a traditional electoral rally, Johnson made an hour long speech peppered with talk of ‘building back better.’ And in traditional Boris style, there were, of course, jokes – ones which fortunately landed better than some of the more laboured ones he’s been making at evening receptions. Below are five of the PM’s best moments from his address to the Tory faithful.


Liz Truss: ‘It’s raining men’

It’s the final day of Tory party conference today, with all eyes on Boris Johnson’s speech at midday. But will all the cabinet be there to watch it, bright-eyed and bushy tailed? Judging from last night’s antics, Mr S suspects that the answer may be: no. Truss, wearing a striking green number, stood out a mile in a sea of identikit Tory boy blue suits Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey was seen belting out ‘The Time of My Life’ at the legendary inHouse comms karaoke party while many of her fellow ministers attended The Spectator’s own champagne-fuelled shindig. But while Tom Tugendhat and Michael Gove twirled and spun together

How the Tories can ‘level up’ without annoying Nimbys

Have the Conservatives lost their nerve on planning reform? Not quite, but a couple of small interventions at the Conservative party conference in Manchester point in a new direction. If anything, they suggest more ambition, not less, on the part of the ministerial team involved – though less opportunity for a falling out with southern voters. The first, by Michael Gove, was yesterday in a Policy Exchange fringe event with Sebastian Payne on the latter’s new book, Broken Heartlands. The new Levelling Up Secretary told his interviewer that the gap between paying monthly rent and paying monthly mortgage instalments – which are lower than rents for first-time buyers lucky enough

Gove starts to define ‘levelling up’

What is levelling up? One of the problems with this nebulous term is that anyone in government who has understood what it means has decided to keep this a glorious secret, rather than sharing it with others. Now that there is an entire department for Levelling Up, it’s a bit harder to take this approach. Michael Gove is the new Secretary of State for the policy and spoke last night at a ConservativeHome fringe event at the Conservative party conference. He was keen not just to offer a picture of what levelling up will look like, but also to respond to critics within his own party who think this is

What do Michael Gove and Andy Haldane really mean by ‘Levelling Up’?

Levelling up is central to the Government’s policy agenda. But it has become an umbrella term for everything and anything – which while part of its success electorally, raises challenges in terms of tangible policy. To address this, last week the Government announced that Michael Gove is to be appointed as Secretary of State for Levelling Up and that former Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane will head up a task force for the next six months to look at this area. The good news is that much analysis has already been carried out. In a presentation at Policy Exchange in June, for example, Haldane outlined how to make levelling

Ministers have the ‘time of their lives’ at karaoke

New York may have the Met Gala but London has Parlioke. As global fashionistas last night crammed into their garish garbs, here in Westminster our political masters were having an evening soirée of their own.  Steerpike’s man with a microphone reports that MPs were invited to a select singing bash. Ahead of her speech today at Policy Exchange, international trade secretary Liz Truss warmed up her vocal cords with a touch of karaoke. The equalities minister hosted MPs in Parliament alongside fellow Cabinet attendee Therese Coffey, fresh off a morning media round on Universal Credit cuts.  Coffey and others let their hair down with a range of vintage songs including

Even Tories should be wary of Gove’s election stitch-up

Conservative politicians appear willing to revolt on every issue: tax rises, China, lockdowns. But on the accumulation of power by their party they remain silent. The system is being rigged to their advantage, and on that shady objective they are happy to give the Johnson administration a free pass. Imagine a football club giving itself the right to decide when the referee can grant a penalty – or a gang of potential criminals having a veto over police investigations – and you will understand the impact of the government’s latest proposals perfectly. Its Elections Bill places the referee under the control of the ruling party and the cops in the

Oxford has more to be ashamed of than Gove

Being the most prestigious university in the English-speaking world comes with its drawbacks. While the rolls of alumni are littered with famous names, not every Oxonian puts their formidable talents towards good. Even the most cursory glance will tell you that it’s not particularly surprising to learn that vice-chancellor Louise Richardson is ’embarrassed’ about the behaviour of one particular graduate. Aung San Suu Kyi has, after all, been explaining to The Hague that Myanmar has not been engaged in genocide, merely killing large numbers of an ethnic group that her government did not acknowledge exists. Fortunately for Suu Kyi, she has escaped the ire of the university on this occasion. Instead,

Why Gove’s night on the dance floor is good news

I was pleased to see pictures of Michael Gove at a nightclub in Aberdeen last weekend. According to press reports, he barrelled into a pub in the city centre at around 1.15 a.m. on Sunday, and when last orders were called he was persuaded by fellow revellers to accompany them to a nightclub called Pipe, where he spent the next hour dancing energetically to loud music. ‘I am almost sure he was by himself,’ said Emma Lament, a singer who had performed an acoustic set earlier in the pub and revealed a ‘merry’ Mr Gove had ‘rocked up’ before closing time. ‘He really was enjoying himself. I don’t think he

Watch: Michael Gove’s bizarre dance moves

Downing Street’s Union Unit has tried many ideas to keep Scotland in the UK – but even they can’t have thought of this. Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove was spotted in the early hours of the morning dancing in a popular nightclub in Aberdeen, the city of his birth. Gove, a veteran of the Whitehall jungle, turned up shortly after 1 a.m. at O’Neills pub – a place ‘where you can enjoy the craic’ in its own words – before heading on upstairs to nightclub Bohemia. One gob-smacked punter was quoted in the Daily Record as saying:  ‘Michael Gove walked into O’Neills at around 1.15am, the pub was just about closing. I’m

Michael Gove puts No. 10 on the market

Cabinet office minister Michael Gove has put his £2.25 million west London home on the market. The house, which has a black painted door just like the real No. 10 in Downing Street, is described by estate agents as a ‘big boned period house’ that ‘oozes style’. While Gove may not longer be part of the Notting Hill set, he’s certainly selling at Notting Hill type prices. According to the estate agents, the property is: ‘A wonderful Victorian terraced house with two floors of excellent living/entertaining space and a walled garden.’ The house sale comes just over a month after Michael and his partner Sarah Vine announced they were separating. They have

The Prince Harryfication of Boris Johnson

The acting one sees upon the stage doesn’t show how human beings actually comport themselves in crises, but simply how actors think they ought to. It is the same with politicians, but they are not actors, only a sort of reductio ad absurdum of a thespian. Their profession bears the same relation to proper acting (so-called) as that of a card sharp or a divorce lawyer bears to poetry. Take Michael Gove, whom I have known since I was 21, and Matt Hancock, whom (I thank God fasting) I don’t know at all. Were this a play, Hancock would not have left his wife and three children for a well-known

Ever weaker Union: The Tories lack a constitutional theory

No doubt Michael Gove is satisfied with how his latest comments on Scottish independence have gone down. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, de facto minister for the Union (even though that’s meant to be someone else’s job), told the Telegraph he couldn’t see any circumstances under which the PM would allow Nicola Sturgeon a second referendum on breaking up Britain. This is exactly what Scotland’s embattled unionists want to hear and seem not to tire of hearing, even though they hear it a lot. Sturgeon has obliged by accusing Gove of ‘sneering, arrogant condescension’, ‘completely refusing to accept Scottish democracy’ and helping ‘build support for independence’. And so

Scrapping English votes for English laws could spell trouble

It has been almost 45 years since Tam Dalyell first asked the West Lothian Question. It is a damning indictment of devolutionary unionists that they are still flailing for an answer. Dalyell, a Scottish Labour MP with the uncommon foresight and courage to oppose his party’s embrace of devolution, first posed it during the parliamentary debates that teed up the first referendums in 1979: ‘For how long will English constituencies and English Honourable members tolerate … at least 119 Honourable Members from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland exercising an important, and probably often decisive, effect on English politics while they themselves have no say in the same matters in Scotland,

Gove skips self-isolation

This week, the government yet again threw the country’s holiday plans into chaos, after it announced that Portugal would be moved to the ‘amber list’ on Tuesday, meaning those returning from the country will have to quarantine at home for ten days. Little did the government know though that the Portuguese travel chaos would affect its own inner workings. The Daily Mail reports today that Michael Gove had to leave a meeting with Boris Johnson and devolved leaders after being pinged by the NHS app. It is thought that he came into contact with a Covid sufferer after traveling to the Champions League final in Porto last week with his

A politician’s guide to non-denial denials

Michael Gove was deployed to the Commons on Monday afternoon to answers questions on the ministerial code, an hour-long appearance in which he was (inevitably) asked about that day’s Daily Mail splash: ‘Boris: Let the bodies pile high in their thousands’. An awkward question for any minister to handle, you might think, but the oleaginous Gove just about got away with it. Asked directly about the reports, the Cabinet Office minister gave a lengthy reply which contained this key passage to wriggle out of trouble again: Tens of thousands of people were dying. The Prime Minister made a decision in that meeting to trigger a second lockdown. He made a

Gove’s ‘bodies pile high’ non-denial

This afternoon’s urgent question on allegations of Tory sleaze could have been a rather explosive affair. Instead, it was used by members of all parties to produce a series of rather rubbish slogans for the local and devolved assembly elections next month. The Conservatives wanted to deflect attention from their problems by complaining about a series of things: that the other parties were bad too, that voters didn’t care about this stuff anyway, and that the government was being criticised for trying too hard in the pandemic. Labour and the SNP wanted to nail the Tories and produce similar clips for their campaigns, and the Lib Dems had a number

What is Michael Gove up to in Israel?

Boris Johnson may have had to cancel his trip to India but that hasn’t stopped his colleagues embarking on trips overseas. Michael Gove is in Israel today on a fact-finding mission ahead of his review into immunity vaccine passports. The Cabinet Office minister has been meeting with Israeli politicians, including prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the foreign minister and health minister.  The trip – which I reported earlier this month – is focussed on what the UK can learn from Israel’s Covid response. Discussions are also taking place on a possible green travel corridor between the two countries for when overseas holidays are allowed again.  Vaccine passports aren’t the only

Gove hints at vaccine passport app

It wasn’t so long ago that ministers were lining up on broadcast to insists vaccine passports were out of the question when it came to the UK. While they could be used for travel abroad, the UK was — as Matt Hancock put it — not a ‘papers, please’ country. Instead, the UK appears to be turning into an ‘app, please’ nation. On Monday, Michael Gove met with MPs across the House for a private ‘listening exercise’ on immunity IDs. Although the purpose of the session was supposedly to gather MPs’ thoughts on the issue of vaccine passports, attendees were left with the distinct impression that they would be going ahead regardless of

Watch: Michael Gove’s pub passport evasion

Michael Gove was up this morning in the Commons fielding questions following last night’s controversial announcement that vaccine passports could be required for the pub. Amid collective fury at such a prospect by journalists, parliamentarians and policy wonks alike,  William Wragg, the baby faced assassin of moderate Toryism, stepped up to ask the obvious question: Does my right honourable friend, the chancellor of the duchy of lancaster, still agree with himself in his opposition to covid vaccine certification to attend the pub as he expressed on Sky News recently? A chuckling, bashful Gove responded thus: Well, consistency is often the hobgoblin of small minds but my view on this issue is consistent