Is there anything Gove can’t do? Boris Johnson hands ‘frenemy’ minister control of ‘levelling up’ in revamped housing and communities department – and tells him to deal with post-Grenfell cladding crisis, elections AND Nicola Sturgeon
- Michael Gove is given ‘levelling up’ department to deliver Government’s agenda
- He will now head the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
- Mr Gove is also being given the title of Minister for Intergovernmental Relations
- This means co-ordinating with the devolved administrations including Scotland
Michael Gove has been handed a muscular new ministerial brief that will see him juggle levelling up, the Grenfell cladding crisis and diplomatic relations with Nicola Sturgeon after Boris Johnson’s reshuffle, it was revealed today.
The Housing and Communities secretary, both a former ally and nemesis of the Prime Minister has been put in charge of the Government’s levelling up agenda to reward former Labour-voting Red Wall areas of the North and Midlands for voting Tory in 2019.
His Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is to be renamed the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – underlining its central role in delivering on a key strand of Mr Johnson’s Covid rebuilding.
But at the same time he has been ordered to succeed where his predecessor Robert Jenrick failed, the Sunday Times reported.
Rule changes brought in after the fire in 2017 that left 72 people dead have seen many homeowners unable to sell homes with flammable cladding due to the cost of replacing it.
The added responsibility shows that while Mr Gove, who ran against Mr Johnson to be Tory leader in 2016 and 2019, has been handed a powerful new Cabinet role by his former Vote Leave ally, he has also been handed tough projects to deliver on.
Downing Street said Mr Gove was also being given the title of Minister for Intergovernmental Relations with responsibility for UK governance and elections and co-ordinating with the devolved administrations.
Michael Gove has dramatically expanded his Whitehall empire after emerging as one of the big winners in Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle
Downing Street said Mr Gove was being given the title of Minister for Intergovernmental Relations with responsibility for UK governance and elections and co-ordinating with the devolved administrations of Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland, Mark Drakeford in Wales, and Jeffrey Donaldson in Northern Ireland
Rule changes brought in after the Grenfell fire in 2017 that left 72 people dead have seen many homeowners unable to sell homes with flammable cladding due to the cost of replacing it.
At the same time former Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane has been appointed head of a new levelling up taskforce formed jointly by Mr Gove and the Prime Minister
PM would be ‘punished’ by voters if he called ‘cynical’ early election, says says ex-comms chief Cain
Boris Johnson is unlikely to call a general election before 2024 and would be ‘punished’ by voters if he did, a former aide said today.
Lee Cain, who was the PM’s director of communications until quitting No10 alongside Dominic Cummings, said that the Covid crisis meant there was a shopping list of things to be done before the next election.
The public last went to the polls in 2019, months before the pandemic struck and there has been speculation that the PM could call another one a year early, in 2023.
But Mr Cain told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme today: ‘I don’t think an early election is likely. We have lost two years to Covid already so you already have limited time for delivery and I think this administration will be focused very much on the deliver in every moment they can get.
‘I think also we have had an awful lot of elections – we have had the (EU) referendum and two generals (elections in 2017 and 2019).
‘The public are broadly bored of that, they just want to just see a government just get on and deliver the things they have talked about …
‘If a government was seen to cynically go back to the polls early for political advantage they would be punished.’
A source told the Sunday Times: ‘He’s got cladding, which desperately needs fixing because it is ruining thousands of people’s lives. Having arguably our best delivery minister in a new, bigger, more muscular department is really significant.’
Mr Gove’s new more powerful department was unveiled last night. At the same time it was revealed former Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane has been appointed head of a new levelling up taskforce formed jointly by Mr Gove and the Prime Minister.
Announcing the appointments, Mr Johnson said: ‘This Government is committed to uniting and levelling up every part of the UK and I am determined that as we build back better from the pandemic we are geared up with the teams and expertise to deliver on that promise.
‘Andy is uniquely qualified to lead our efforts to raise living standards, spread opportunity, improve our public services and restore people’s sense of pride in their communities.
‘I look forward to working with him, and with my new ministerial team, to deliver the opportunities this country needs.’
According to the Sunday Times, Mr Johnson told a Cabinet meetign on Friday he was ‘thinking about delivery’ when he chose the new look team, adding: ‘I’ve probably seen as many delivery rooms as anybody apart from Jacob (Rees-Mogg, a father-of-six),’ Johnson joked.
A source told the paper, using the same analogy, that this meant Mr Gove was now the ‘midwife’.
Mr Gove said he was ‘thrilled’ to be taking on the Levelling Up agenda, which he described as ‘the defining mission of this Government’.
‘With a superb team of ministers and officials in a new department, our relentless focus will be on delivering for those overlooked families and undervalued communities across the United Kingdom,’ he said.
‘We have a unique opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives.’
Mr Haldane, who is joining the Cabinet Office on a six month secondment from the Royal Society of Arts, where he is chief executive, said: ‘Levelling up the UK is one of the signature challenges of our time.
‘It has also been a personal passion throughout my professional career so I am delighted and honoured to be making a contribution to this crucial objective.’
This all comes on top of Mr Gove’s existing responsibility to save Christmas.
Before the reshuffle he was made head of the National Economic Recovery Taskforce, in charge of resolving problems with the UK’s food supply chains amid warnings from business chiefs of shortages at Christmas.
The Prime Minister has reportedly tasked him with ‘fixing’ ongoing issues caused by a lack of HGV drivers and food processing staff.
Mr Johnson is said to have told his Cabinet last week that he had put Mr Gove in charge of a new taskforce as he joked he ‘doesn’t want to have to cancel Christmas again’.
A source told the Sunday People today: ‘It’s basically the Committee to Save Christmas. It’s a race against time now.
‘We’ve heard from everyone prices are going to go up and there are products that will not be there unless we get a grip.
‘No one has mentioned turkeys yet, but traditional Christmas veg and certain must-have toys won’t be available.’
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