Demands for probe into Michael Gove’s role with secretive Remainer plotters
Lindsay Hoyle rebukes Michael Gove for breaking ministerial code
Michael Gove’s involvement with a secretive pro-EU group is being kept off his register of ministerial interests, with one of his MP colleagues demanding the Commons’ anti-sleaze chief investigate.
In January Michael Gove was reported to have attended an event with the Ditchley Foundation, alongside arch-Remainers Peter Mandelson and David Lammy.
The meeting was titled: “How can we make Brexit work better with our neighbours in Europe”.
Senior Brexiteers, including Lord Frost, Nigel Farage and ERG deputy chairman David Jones all voiced concerns that the meeting was part of a “plot” to ensure the UK remained aligned with the EU.
Mr Gove is a director of the foundation, and his involvement is listed on the Foundation’s website, however, his position is not available for members of the public to see on his official list of ministerial interests.
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When the meeting was revealed by the Guardian in February, Rishi Sunak said he was “unaware” of Mr Gove’s attendance.
According to Mr Gove’s register of interests, he is a patron of two groups in his constituency and a member of the Community Security Trust advisory board. He is also listed as a visiting fellow of Nuffield College Oxford.
His involvement with the Ditchley Foundation has never publicly appeared on the list.
The Ministerial Code makes clear that roles at “charities and non-public organisations” constitute information which “must be published”.
The revelation has been met with a scathing response by one Conservative MP, who told the Express that Parliament’s Standards Commissioner should “look carefully at this and investigate whether the ministerial code has been broken”.
They also raised the prospect that Mr Gove has failed to disclose other roles on his register of interests.
Concerns were also raised that the Ditchley Foundation received a Government grant worth £60,000 in 2021, and to what extent if any Mr Gove may have had in the decision to award the grant.
While Mr Gove’s Levelling Up department said it was part of the Government’s wider Covid support scheme, the aggrieved Conservative MP said: “It’s clear that this role should have been disclosed to officials – not least given that the government awarded a grant of taxpayers’ money to the Ditchley Foundation.
“The Ditchley Foundation is an organisation run by former European Commissioners and anti-Brexit campaigners. It is certainly not appropriate for a Secretary of State to be aligning himself with these figures, nor should he be plotting with them behind the PM’s back to redraw our relationship with the EU.
“My constituents are sick of people operating in the shadows, treating politics as though it’s a game.”
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Other former ministers who have sat on the Foundation’s board of Directors have all included the role in their public declaration ministerial interests, including David Cameron, Jo Johnson and Dominic Grieve.
A spokesman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities told the Express that while Mr Gove’s role at the Ditchley Foundation is not publicly viewable, it has been declared with the Cabinet Office in line with the Ministerial Code.
He said Mr Gove had “no part” in the awarding of a grant to the Foundation.
He said: “Strict controls are in place around Government Grants to ensure taxpayer money is awarded fairly.”
Mr Gove has been at the centre of allegations this week that he was part of a plot, along with Dominic Cummings and adviser Dougie Smith, to bring down Boris Johnson.
Nadine Dorries claims he was part of a group called “The Movement” that controls the Conservative Party from behind the scenes.
A source close to Mr Gove hit back: “Nadine is a very talented bestselling fiction author.”
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