Michael Gove

British politician (born 1967)

Michael Andrew Gove (born 26 August 1967) is a British Conservative politician who has served as Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities from 2021 to July 2022 and October 2022 to the July 2024 general election. He was Secretary of State for Education from 2010 to 2014, Secretary of State for Justice from 2015 to 2016 and Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2017 to 2019. An author and former columnist for The Times, he was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Surrey Heath from 2005 until the 2024 election.

Gove as Secretary of State for Education, c. 2012




  • It may be moral to keep an empire because the fuzzy-wuzzies can't look after themselves.
    It may be immoral to keep an empire because the people of the third world have an inalienable right to self-determination, but that doesn't matter whether it's moral or immoral.
  • 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.


  • The Government is about to introduce a new test for those considering a university career. The central question will be punishingly direct. Do you want to run up a debt of £21,000 in order to go to the best British universities? Some people will, apparently, be put off applying to our elite institutions by the prospect of taking on a debt of this size. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is all to the good.


  • There are lots of other folk, including in the Cabinet who could easily be prime minister, I am not one of them. I could not be prime minister, I am not equipped to be prime minister, I don’t want to be prime minister.
    • Speaking on The World at One radio programme (2012)
  • I'm constitutionally incapable of it. There's a special extra quality you need that is indefinable, and I know I don't have it. There's an equanimity, an impermeability and a courage that you need. There are some things in life you know it's better not to try.


  • The reality of Christian mission in today’s churches is a story of thousands of quiet kindnesses. In many of our most disadvantaged communities it is the churches that provide warmth, food, friendship and support for individuals who have fallen on the worst of times. The homeless, those in the grip of alcoholism or drug addiction, individuals with undiagnosed mental health problems and those overwhelmed by multiple crises are all helped — in innumerable ways — by Christians.
    Churches provide debt counselling, marriage guidance, childcare, English language lessons, after-school clubs, food banks, emergency accommodation and, sometimes most importantly of all, someone to listen. The lives of most clergy and the thoughts of most churchgoers are not occupied with agonising over sexual morality but with helping others in practical ways — in proving their commitment to Christ through service to others.
    • In defence of Christianity, The Spectator 4th April 2015
  • Christianity encourages us to look beyond tribe and tradition to celebrate our common humanity. And at every stage in human history when tyrants and dictators have attempted to set individuals against one another, it has been Christians who have shielded the vulnerable from oppression. It was Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Christian-inspired White Rose movement that led the internal opposition to Hitler’s rule. It was the moral witness of the Catholic church in Poland that helped erode Communism’s authority in the 1980s.
    • ibid


  • I believe our country would be freer, fairer and better off outside the EU. And if, at this moment of decision, I didn't say what I believe, I would not be true to my convictions or my country. By leaving the EU we can take control. Indeed, we can show the rest of Europe the way to flourish. Instead of grumbling and complaining about the things we can't change and growing resentful and bitter, we can shape an optimistic, forward-looking and genuinely internationalist alternative to the path the EU is going down.
  • Gove: I think the people in this country have had enough of experts, with organizations from acronyms, saying—
    Interviewer: They've had enough of experts? The people have had enough of experts? What do you mean by that?
    Gove: People from organizations with acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong.
    Inteviewer: The people of this country have had enough of experts?
    Gove: Because these people are the same ones who got consistently wrong what was happening.
    Interviewer: This is proper Trump politics this, isn't it?
    Gove: No it's actually a faith in the—
    Inteviewer: It's Oxbridge Trump.
    Gove: It's a faith, Faisal, in the British people to make the right decision.
  • I have repeatedly said that I do not want to be prime minister. That has always been my view. But events since last Thursday have weighed heavily with me. I respect and admire all the candidates running for the leadership. In particular, I wanted to help build a team behind Boris Johnson so that a politician who argued for leaving the European Union could lead us to a better future. But I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.
  • I did almost everything not to be a candidate for the leadership of this party. I was so very reluctant because I know my limitations. Whatever charisma is, I don't have it. Whatever glamour may be, I don't think anyone could ever associate me with it. I am standing for the leadership not as a result of calculation; I am standing with the burning desire to transform our country. Because my heart tells me that if we are bold, if we refuse to settle for business as usual, if we dare to dream and summon up all the qualities that have made this country the greatest in the world, then for Britain - and its people - our best days lie ahead.
  • As I look back on that time, I think that there were mistakes that I made... I also think that my initial instinct that I was not the best person to put themselves forward as a potential prime minister, well most of my colleagues agreed.


  • While the EU has often been a force for good in raising environmental standards, some of the means haven't necessarily been the most effective regulatory tools - so getting those right will be critical to Brexit success. There's a huge opportunity to design a better system for supporting farmers, but first I need to listen to environmentalists about how we can use that money to better protect the environment… and also to farmers to learn how to make the regime work better.
  • [Brexit is] a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform how we care for our land, our rivers and our seas, how we recast our ambition for our country’s environment, and the planet
  • Animals are sentient beings who feel pain and suffering, so we are writing that principle into law and ensuring that we protect their welfare. Our plans will also increase sentences for those who commit the most heinous acts of animal cruelty to five years in jail. We are a nation of animal lovers so we will make Brexit work not just for citizens but for the animals we love and cherish too.


  • The new law will reaffirm the UK's global leadership on this critical issue, demonstrating our belief that the abhorrent ivory trade should become a thing of the past. Ivory should never be seen as a commodity for financial gain or a status symbol.
  • My view is that what is emblematic of Britain is the welcome that we gave the Windrush generation, the welcome we gave people fleeing Idi Amin in the 1970s, the welcome that we continue to give those fleeing persecution. And now the fact that outside the European Union we can have a truly colour-blind migration policy that, if the British people want to, treats people from the Bahamas in the same way as we treat people from Bulgaria.
  • The creation of national parks almost 70 years ago changed the way we view our precious landscapes - helping us all access and enjoy our natural world. We want to make sure they are not only conserved, but enhanced for the next generation. Are we properly supporting all those who live in, work in, or want to visit these magnificent places? Should we indeed be extending our areas of designated land?
  • A future prime minister could always choose to alter the relationship between Britain and the European Union. But the Chequers approach is the right one for now because we have got to make sure that we respect that vote and take advantage of the opportunities of being outside the European Union.
  • We don't want to stay in the EU. We voted very clearly, 17.4 million people sent a clear message that we want to leave the European Union, and that means also leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice


  • I took drugs on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago. At the time I was a young journalist. It was a mistake. I look back and I think I wish I hadn't done that. I think all politicians have lives before politics. Certainly when I was working as a journalist I didn't imagine I would go into politics or public service. I didn't act with an eye to that. The question now is that people should look at my record as a politician and ask themselves, 'Is this person we see ready to lead now?' I have seen the damage drugs can do to others and that is why I deeply regret the decisions I took,
  • The point that I made in the article is that if any of us lapse sometimes from standards that we uphold, that is human. The thing to do is not necessarily then to say that the standards should be lowered. It should be to reflect on the lapse and to seek to do better in the future.
  • We didn't vote to leave without a deal. That wasn't the message of the campaign I helped lead. During that campaign, we said we should do a deal with the EU and be part of the network of free trade deals that covers all Europe, from Iceland to Turkey.
  • Sadly, there are some in the House of Commons who think they can try to prevent us leaving on October 31st. And as long as they continue to try to make that argument, then that actually gives some heart to some in the European Union that we won't leave on October 31st. The sooner that everyone recognises that we will leave on that day, the quicker we can move towards a good deal in everyone's interests.




  • It's important that the Government does press ahead with appropriate and thoughtful steps in order to safeguard the environment but there are some specific areas where the cost that is being imposed on individuals risks creating a backlash. [...]
    We don't want to get to a situation where the support for improving our environment curdles and turns into resistance.

Quotes about Gove

  • He [Gove] evoked a support at least for that position [found in Tetlock's book], Expert Political Judgment, in which portions of that book compare subject matter experts to minimalist statistical baselines like extrapolation. Can you predict simple extrapolation algorithms? And the answer was often no. Gove was raising the point that, where do these guys get off making these confident predictions about the consequences of Brexit? And the best empirical evidence would suggest that probably not materially more accurate than simple extrapolation algorithms.


  1. (22 April 2020). Philip E. Tetlock on Forecasting and Foraging as a Fox (Ep. 93). Conversations with Tyler [Cowan].
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