Michael Gove given levelling up post - days after emergence of 1987 speech insulting 'dirty' Northerners

Michael Gove has been given responsibility for delivering on the Government’s ‘levelling-up agenda’ - just days after the emergence of a 1987 speech he made insulting Northerners.

Michael Gove will have responsibility for devolution and levelling up.

Mr Gove has succeeded Robert Jenrick as Housing Secretary but also been handed responsibility for “levelling up” while maintaining his role trying to ward off Scottish independence.

It came after The Independent revealed a tape of a speech given by Mr Gove when he was president-elect of Oxford University’s debating society and gave his views on Margaret Thatcher.

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He said at the time: “We are at last experiencing a new empire: an empire where the happy south stamps over the cruel, dirty, toothless face of the northerner. At last Mrs Thatcher is saying I don’t give a fig for what half of the population say because the richer half will keep me in power. This may be amoral, this may be immoral, but it’s politics and it’s pragmatism.”

Mr Gove himself is originally from Scotland and was a journalist before making the move into politics. As Environment Secretary, he spoke out against the Sheffield tree-felling debacle.

Having been in charge of multiple thorny issues surrounding Brexit at the Cabinet Office, he has now become Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. Downing Street said he would also retain responsibility for the Union, another major role with Nicola Sturgeon fighting for Scottish independence.

It is a transformation from five years ago when Mr Gove crushed Mr Johnson’s Tory leadership bid by quitting as his campaign leader and effectively forcing his Vote Leave colleague to leave the race.

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