ConservativeHome put 15 questions – some from the editorial team and some from ConservativeHome readers, submitted in our recent appeal – to each candidate for the Party leadership. The first 14 questions were put to every hopeful, and the final one varied for each candidate.
Here are Michael Gove’s answers to ConservativeHome’s 15 questions:
1. Theresa May suggested there should be “an end to austerity”. Was she right or wrong – and why in either case?
Right. We took the tough but necessary decisions to reduce the deficit and repair our economy. We have made progress – with the deficit cut by four fifths and public finances in a much healthier position. Now we need to use our economic strength to build an even better Britain. I will secure a good Brexit deal which will enable us to cut taxes and invest in key transport infrastructure, public services, housing, digital connectivity to provide a sound basis for further economic growth.
2. “The UK should set a zero carbon target for 2050.” Do you agree and if so why?
Yes. Showing leadership in the fight against climate change isn’t just right for the planet, it’s good for jobs and investment. Leading the way on developing new electric cars, new methods of constructing homes and new ways of generating energy will allow us to export new technologies across the globe and secure the benefits of being the vanguard nation of the fourth industrial revolution.
3. What would you do to strengthen the Union?
Everything it took. I am proudly Scottish, proudly British and a passionate Unionist. I would ensure the UK Government was a visible, proactive, force for good in every part of our United Kingdom. I would use the money we will get back from the EU, and more, to support growth and jobs in the four nations of the Union.
4. From reader Penny_Change: Will you commit to cancelling HS2?
I wouldn’t rush to a decision. But it must be reviewed to see if we’re getting proper value for money and to ensure the North benefits first. We need to improve rail capacity and connectivity, especially in the North of England but there are tough questions we need to ask about routes and where we frontload investment. Lord Forsyth did a very thorough review of HS2, which has some important messages. He recommended that we ‘should press the pause button’ while we do a ‘new appraisal’. I also believe we need to focus on improving transport links at regional and subregional level and ensure we have an effective new level of connectivity in the North linking Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds with so-called Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS3.
5. What is the right level of immigration for Britain?
We should introduce an Australian-style points-based system for immigration. That’s what I campaigned for when I led Vote Leave. We will prioritise entry for the talented and enterprising people who can help businesses grow and keep public services like our NHS and care services high quality. We should welcome those who want to study at our superb universities and colleges. We must also be ready to provide a safe home for those genuinely fleeing oppression. But we also need tougher rules to keep out foreign criminals.
6. Is the internet a threat to be contained or an opportunity to be unleashed?
The internet is a huge opportunity. It brings people together, breaks down barriers, makes trade easier, democratises knowledge and gives everyone a voice. Britain should be the best country in the world for education, science and technology, the natural home of tech entrepreneurs and home to the companies which will be the next Facebooks, Googles, Amazons and Netflixes.
Embracing innovation also means developing the technologies which can ensure the online world is safe. We should be in the forefront of developing the means by which privacy can be protected, children shielded from exploitation and criminal activity countered.
I would create a new fast track route for graduates to work with our world leading cyber safety institutions like GCHQ to develop the technologies of the future which harness the power and protect the integrity of the online world.
7. Do you agree that the NHS is an expression of British values?
Yes. I owe my life and my family’s well-being to the NHS. I led the campaign to leave the EU so that we could invest more money in our NHS. Now this Government is committed to spending £394 million more on the NHS every week. As Prime Minister I won’t just protect the NHS, I’ll strengthen it.
8. Would you be prepared to take Britain out of the EU without a deal at the end of October if necessary?
I want to get a better deal with the EU. And as quickly as possible. If elected, my first priority will be securing a better deal leading to a Canada-style Free Trade Agreement with the EU.
There are those who have said we must leave on 31st October whatever happens. but if we’re almost all the way there and we need just a little extra time to get the very final arrangements over the line, then I would not give up on the progress we have made.
Not least because pushing for no deal prematurely would mean a vote in Parliament forcing us into a General Election before Brexit is secured. That would potentially hand Downing Street to a Jeremy Corbyn government propped up by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. We could lose Brexit altogether, risk the future of our Union, and hand the levers of power to a Marxist. I set out just how awful that would be for Britain back in January in the Confidence debate in the House of Commons.
9. Please complete the following sentence in no more than 30 words: “Conservatism is…”
Conservatism is a belief in the importance of the special worth of each individual, liberated to become the author of their own life story, supported by strengthened families communities and historic institutions.
10. From reader Graham, in Bristol: Why should I rejoin the Conservatives [under your leadership] from The Brexit Party?
Because I will deliver Brexit and no other party can. The Conservatives are committed to delivering Brexit – and under my leadership we will – but we are about so much more than that. We have a major programme of domestic reforms – to improve public services, support the businesses that ensure growing levels of prosperity for all, invest in the infrastructure that the whole of the UK needs so as to flourish, and nurture new technologies so that Britain leads the world in scientific innovation.
11. Pick one: No Brexit, a 2019 general election, or a second referendum this year.
This is a false choice. We need to honour the referendum result and deliver Brexit before there is an election. We must not blunder into a confidence vote which we could lose, triggering a general election. I am resolutely and categorically opposed to a second referendum, which is only advocated for by people who don’t like the result of the last referendum. Moreover, the biggest risk as I see it is that it would give Nicola Sturgeon the excuse she’s been looking for to try again at breaking up our precious Union – and as Prime Minister I will not let that happen.
12. Should the Party Chairman be elected?
Our members, activists and local councillors are the life-blood of this party and I think that we need more democracy within it. We need the membership to count for more so I am open to this idea.
13. From reader LieBertArian: What will you do to root out Islamophobia in the Tory party?
Any bigotry based on religion, ethnicity or “race” has no place in the Conservative Party – and I will make sure as Leader that it is never tolerated. Islamophobes will be kicked out.
14. From reader hertscommuter: What is the naughtiest thing you have ever done?
I took drugs on several occasions at social occasions more than 20 years ago. It is something I deeply regret. Drugs damage lives. They are dangerous and it was a mistake.
15. Why did you stay in Theresa May’s Cabinet to the bitter end, long after it became clear she was getting Brexit badly wrong?
I led the referendum campaign and I am determined to deliver Brexit, so I voted for the deal which would have seen us leave the EU on March 29th. Every Cabinet Minister who resigned over Brexit ultimately voted for the Prime Minister’s deal as well. But we now need a new approach. The best way to honour the referendum result is to secure a better deal, a bespoke agreement based on the free trade agreement between Canada and the EU, tailored for Britain’s needs. This means free trade as well as taking back control of our laws, borders and money.
>To read the answers of the other candidates, click here.