Downing St switchboard flooded after Gove tells people to call about Neil interview

Michael Gove caused a glut of calls to Downing Street after he asked people to call in if they wante

Michael Gove caused a glut of calls to Downing Street after he asked people to call in if they wanted to know why the prime minister isn't facing up to the Andrew Neil interview. Picture: BBC - Credit: BBC

After Boris Johnson reportedly confirmed he will not be doing the Andrew Neil interview, Michael Gove asked listeners to call the Downing Street office if they want to know why he isn't doing it.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Gove was challenged on why the prime minister is ducking one of the fiercest interviewers, and gave out the Downing Street phone number saying he's "not the prime minister's diary secretary".

Gove gave the telephone number out in response to a request to rate, on a scale of one to 10, the chances of the prime minister facing Neil's scrutiny. "That number would be: 0207 930 4433, that's the Downing Street number, and if you ring the prime minister's diary secretary she will know what the prime minister is going to do. I'm not the prime minister's diary secretary."

"You could have caused some problems there, you might jam the switchboard," commented 5 Live host Chris Warburton.

Indeed, after 5 Live journalist Calum McDonald amplified the message in a tweet, gambit appears to have caused chaos at No. 10.

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"I just called this number; the guy who answered the phone said they can't give out any PM diary info and that he didn't know why Gove had given out this number," tweeted musician Steven Adams. "And then he hung up."

Writer @Zoah_HS tweeted: "My mother just called Downing Street and a lovely young man said that they are 'rather inundated with calls' due to this."

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Callers are now greeted with a voice message prior to getting through that says: "We are unable to give out any information relating to the prime minister's diary."

Buzzfeed's Alex Wickham earlier today reported a 'senior Conservative source' as confirming the prime minister will reject the interview.

The source reportedly said that instead of talking to Neil, "the PM will focus on talking to voters about their priorities including investing in our NHS and helping with the cost of living".

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