Michael Gove, formerly Minister for the Cabinet Office, has been appointed Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, replacing Robert Jenrick in PM Boris Johnson’s Cabinet reshuffle.
With a full brief including tackling the housing crisis and the building safety agenda post-Grenfell, Gove has also been given additional responsibilities to oversee the Union in the face of calls for a new Scottish independence referendum, and the Government’s wide-ranging ‘levelling up’ agenda.
The move is being seen as a political step down for the high-profile Gove however, a former Environment Secretary, candidate for the Conservative Party leadership, and head of Cabinet Office policy co-ordination. He has limited experience of housing, having been Shadow Housing Secretary from 2005-2007.
Robert Jenrick has been demoted to the backbenches, following rumours of his Department’s planning shakeup being heavily watered down after a revolt from Conservative MPs, and managing its introduction will now be one of Gove’s key challenges. His tenure as Housing Secretary also included controversies such as securing tax breaks for an east London development by media mogul and Tory party donor Richard Desmond, and overruling the local council.
A day before Gove’s appointment, accusations were levelled at him of alleged racist, sexist and homophobic remarks made when a student at Oxford University 30 years ago. The Cabinet office have rejected the accusations, but Gove has been asked to apologise.