Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki
A UK Government cabinet minister has defended his Conservative colleague Michael Gove after recordings came to light showing Mr Gove to have made racist and homophobic comments when he was a student at Oxford University.
Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary (who kept his job in Boris Johnson’s latest reshuffle) has insisted that Mr. Gove (who moved from being the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to the Housing Secretary) is not racist or homophobic “in any way”.
The controversy came to light after recordings emerged showing Mr. Gove making a number of offensive remarks during his days as a student and after he graduated between 1987 and 1993.
"He’s not homophobic in any way at all"
On Tuesday (14 September) The Independent revealed the recordings of Mr. Gove, where he can be heard trying to make jokes by referring to people in British colonies as “fuzzy-wuzzies” and describing the late Sir Leon Brittan as a paedophile.
He also made derogatory comments about gay people, saying they preferred "short-term relations". He went on to say that “those of us who have spent hours in New York bathhouses will realise that in one night you can pack in 15 loving relationships and 300 one-night stands and still be none the worse for wear.”
Appearing on Sky News on Thursday (16 September), Mr Wallace was quizzed on why Mr Gove had failed to address the comments. Attitude approached Mr Gove’s office earlier this week, following the reports, but received no response.
Ben Wallace MP, The UK Defence Secretary (Photo: Wiki)
Mr. Wallace said the new housing secretary was not hiding and had never been “shy of appearing on media rounds”. He continued: “He is [a] very, very good, formidable performer and I’m sure you can put those questions to him.
“But fundamentally I know Michael. He’s not a racist, he’s not homophobic in any way at all. He is in fact a great reforming minister in this government.”
The revelation of the recordings led to calls for Mr. Gove to consider his position within the Cabinet, prior to the reshuffle.
The Liberal Democrat MP, Wendy Chamberlain, said the remarks were “not befitting of a government minister, not befitting of a journalist, in fact not befitting of anyone,” adding she wasn’t confident any they would result in any action against Mr. Gove given his bosses’ history when it comes to uncomfortable comments.
Attitude has approached Michael Gove's office for comment.
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