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Opinion

Michael Gove takes left turn at the Conservative Party Conference

Gove was clearly moved after speaking to The Big Issue. He's spent the Tory conference undermining Liz Truss and calling for universal free school meals, social housing and renters' rights.

Michael Gove

Michael Gove was sacked from his role of housing secretary in July. Image: Pippa Fowles / No 10 Downing Street

It’s fair to say a lot has changed since the Big Issue interviewed former housing secretary Michael Gove in June. And by the looks of it his time with Britain’s best loved street magazine has left quite the impression.

The Big Issue interview with Gove turned out to be his final big sit-down media conversation. Not long after it happened, in early summer, he was sacked by then-PM Boris Johnson and he signalled a major retreat from frontline politics.

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But the Big Issue makes a mark and the Surrey Heath MP bounced back with a vengeance at Conservative Party Conference this week. He wasn’t singing from the same hymn sheet as Liz Truss’s government.

Gove started the week calling the 45p income tax cut for the rich a “display of the wrong values” before Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng announced an embarrassing U-turn.

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He made his way through seven panels at the conference calling for Truss’s Growth Plan to “shift balance away from landlords” to help renters. Then it was off to Shelter’s fringe event where he called for more social housing to be built, arguing social rent housing helps people build the “nest egg” to buy their own home.

As the Tory party continued to be split on Truss’ stance on raising benefits, Gove then revealed his support for the extremely un-Tory idea of universal free school meals, insisting it could be done for £500m.

“Times are tight. In an ideal world, I think that we should have universal free school meals for all children in primary school. That would be my ideal,” said Gove, speaking at an fringe event at the conference hosted by think tank Onward.

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When he spoke to the Big Issue, Gove insisted he would not run again for leadership of his party. We wonder if that remains the case.

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