LIKE so many of his contemporaries, Michael Gove is the embodiment of a politician who lives for the present – the Environment Secretary is at the heart of Theresa May’s strategising over Brexit.
He thrives on Westminster’s gossip, intrigue and rumour as well as the plotting and scheming. But as some very respected MPs shun the main parties in favour of The Independent Group, he has had the foresight to admit that his generation “has a lot more to do” on climate change and also the concerns of the young.
By agreeing to meet with some of the school pupils who walked out of lessons last week to voice their concerns about politicians’ inertia and inaction on this issue, Mr Gove is recognising that politics does need to change.
All political parties, old and new, need broad appeal in order to succeed and Mr Gove’s stance is tacit recognition, on his part, that issues pertaining to the environment will still be paramount long after Brexit has been reconciled one way or the other.
Not only does Mr Gove’s recognition contradict President Donald Trump’s denial of climate change when the pair have previously shared a similar world view, but it comes as a £10bn plan is drawn up to build a new tidal barrier across the Humber to protect homes, businesses and farmland.
A legitimate insurance policy given the threat that rising sea levels will continue to pose to this area in the event of future flooding – a tidal surge in 2013 could have been far more catastrophic – it is another reminder about the importance of local, regional and national politicians recognising that their responsibilities extend far beyond Brexit.
And while some might balk at the £10bn cost when plans for a tidal lagoon at Swansea were thrown out last year, and when agreement cannot be found on the funding of the Leeds flood defences which are far more modest in scale and cost, others might ask – with good reason – whether the region can afford not to spend such a sum on protecting the Humber communities from Mother Nature’s full force.