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Justice Secretary on record as being no fan of the Good Friday Agreement

By Rebecca Black

Published 02/07/2016

Northern Ireland's Britishness was "hollowed out" by the Good Friday Agreement, one of the frontrunners to become the next Prime Minister previously wrote.

Conservative MP Michael Gove made several controversial comments about the deal in a paper he penned in 2000 called The Price of Peace.

The Justice Secretary also expressed repeated concerns about the "erosion" of Northern Ireland's British culture and claimed that the Good Friday Agreement had turned "the police force into a political plaything whose legitimacy depends on familiarity with fashionable social theories".

He also complained that the deal "uproots justice from its traditions and makes it politically contentious" and that it "demeans traditional expressions of British national identity".

Mr Gove additionally slammed the referendum held over the agreement, which saw 71% of people here vote in its favour, as "rigged", and wrote that, "all the power of the State and the co-option of civil society was used to make opposition unrespectable".

In 2013, when he was made Education Minister, Mr Gove said that splitting the exams taken by English, Welsh and Northern Ireland pupils was a "natural and legitimate consequence of devolution".

The Justice Secretary made headlines this week after declaring he would stand to become leader of the Tory Party, despite having been expected to support his fellow Leave campaigner Boris Johnston.

Mr Johnson pulled out in the aftermath of Mr Gove's announcement, leaving Home Secretary Theresa May and the Justice Secretary as the frontrunner to take over when David Cameron steps down in the autumn.

Under-fire Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also been criticised for his approach to Northern Ireland in past, particularly for befriending Gerry Adams when the IRA's terror campaign was at its peak.

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