HENRY DEEDES on Michael Gove updating the House on the government’s Brexit strategy 

Michael Gove was charged with updating the House on the Government’s Brexit strategy yesterday. Of course he was.

For years the Govester has been the Government’s man for big occasions. The closer, the ‘death’ bowler entrusted with the crucial last overs. Need to rally the troops? Send for Gove!

Under the previous lot this was no enviable task. Brisker trade has been done selling buckets of sand in the Sahara than flogging Theresa May’s hopeless Brexit strategy.

Now, at last, with a government prepared to go mano a mano with Brussels, the Cabinet minister was able to rev his engines. He twisted, he twirled, his peony-tinted cheeks glowed with enthusiasm. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he rather enjoyed himself.

Michael Gove (pictured) was charged with updating the House on the Government’s Brexit strategy yesterday. Of course he was. For years the Govester has been the Government’s man for big occasions, writes Henry Deedes

Mr Gove said the UK’s trade proposal was straightforward. We want the same deal South Korea and Canada already have in place.

The EU’s smoothy-chops negotiator Michel Barnier may moan that the UK is in closer proximity to the EU but, as Gove pointed out, ‘geography need not undermine democracy’. If the EU wants to dig its heels in, we should prepare to ditch negotiations in June.

Behind Gove, arch Eurosceptic skeletores, Owen Paterson (Con, North Shropshire) and Peter Bone (Con, Wellingborough) purred in agreement. Words such as ‘sovereignty’ and ‘autonomy’ lingered pleasingly under their nostrils like a fine Havana.

It was revealing that not a single Shadow Cabinet minister bothered to show up to respond to the statement.

If there were ever a time for Sir Keir Starmer’s forensic skills, this was surely it. But presumably he’d already headed north for last night’s Labour leadership debate.

Instead, the Opposition sent out a fellow called Paul Blomfield. No? Me neither, I’m afraid. Works with Sir Keir on the Brexit brief, apparently. He spoke of the need to keep the ‘closest possible relationship with our most important trading partner’, which is Remainer speak for ‘let’s not leave at all’. 

The EU¿s smoothy-chops negotiator Michel Barnier (pictured) may moan that the UK is in closer proximity to the EU but, as Gove pointed out, ¿geography need not undermine democracy¿

The EU’s smoothy-chops negotiator Michel Barnier (pictured) may moan that the UK is in closer proximity to the EU but, as Gove pointed out, ‘geography need not undermine democracy’

Behind Blomfield, the Labour benches were largely silent bar the odd grumble or the ‘tap, tap, tap’ of fingers on phone keypads. Up in the public gallery, arch-Europhile Lord Mandelson’s ex-bag carrier Lord Liddle peered down glumly.



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