Belfast Telegraph

Michael Gove tipped for Northern Ireland job 'promotion'

Environment Secretary Michael Gove (Yui Mok/PA)
Environment Secretary Michael Gove (Yui Mok/PA)

Speculation is mounting Michael Gove could be lined up as the next Northern Ireland secretary.

Both the Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday report the MP - who challenged to become Theresa May's successor - will remain in the cabinet and be "promoted".

The Sunday Times says the current Environment Secretary is guaranteed a job and indeed a promotion. A source told the paper Mr Johnson wants to recognise talent and show unity.

It says there is speculation he could become resident at Hillsborough Castle but more likely end up with the communities brief responsible for housing.

The Sunday Times also goes on to say that Mr Johnson's team are hoping to strike a "trade deal lite" with the EU ahead of October 21 which would allow trading conditions to continue in the event of a no deal and which could potentially prevent a hardening of the border in Ireland.

There are claims European leaders have signalled they could be open to such a proposal.

Mr Gove also sparked a rift with Boris Johnson after he scuppered his bid for the top job in 2016. He withdrew his support at the last minute to run for the job himself which ultimately saw Theresa May take up residence at Number 10.

The Mail on Sunday also reports Mr Johnson wants to keep Mr Gove in the Cabinet and with the offer of a "bigger job".

"But not a really big job such as Chancellor or Deputy Prime Minister – otherwise the pyschodrama would start all over again," a source told the paper.

It again raises the prospect of the communities brief or the Northern Ireland job going to Mr Gove.

Mr Gove was strongly opposed to the Good Friday Agreement. In 2000 he addressed the issue in a study entitled 'The Price of Peace' which compared the agreement to the appeasement of Nazis and the condoning of the desires of peadophiles.

He described the agreement as a "moral stain" and a "humiliation of our army, police and parliament" and that he believed the IRA could have been defeated.

Earlier this year he defended his decision to be "very critical of terrorism in the past" and critical of the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, in an interview with the BBC's Andrew Marr.

"But it is also the case we have had 20 years of peace in Northern Ireland and in my job I have worked with Irish government ministers to ensure the gains of the peace process," he said.

And while in the running for the Tory leadership job Mr Gove described current NI Secretary Karen Bradley as "brilliant".

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