Michael Gove says it’s wrong to use the ‘L word’ to describe Vote Leave and Tory claims
PUBLISHED: 12:19 21 November 2019 | UPDATED: 22:32 21 November 2019
Michael Gove has denied that he has ‘form’ for telling mistruths in politics as he was questioned about claims made he and colleagues made during the EU referendum and Tory election campaigns.
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In an interview in which he was challenged on numerous untrue and misleading claims, he also said that the government was "absolutely right" to rebrand its Twitter account as "factcheck UK", and did not deny it could happen again.
Channel 4 News confronted the cabinet office minister with a 2016 Vote Leave web advert which said: "Now the EU wants to ban tea kettles," a line that was repeated twice as Daily Express front-page headlines during the referendum campaign.
"It means that there are certain kettles that you could no longer manufacture," said Gove by way of explanation.
The claim itself related to EU research looking into the possibility of regulating the energy consumption of electrical goods. Full Fact later said that the association of the with kettles was "entirely hypothetical" and wouldn't necessarily result in anything being banned.
Told that the advert was a lie, Gove said: "You use the 'L' word, that's a very powerful word. What you're attempting to do is to make a polemical case for a particular viewpoint."
He added: "I think the critical thing is that if you want to have a proper conversation then we can have a proper conversation, and of course what you want to do is to mount a polemical case and that's perfectly legitimate.
"That's perfectly fair journalism," said Gove. "What it's not is objective," he said.
"Is it objective to ask you if you are going to build 40 hospitals or six?" asked the reporter, referring to another claim by the Conservatives that has been debunked by independent fact-checkers.
"What you've done is that you have an argument that you want to prosecute," said Gove, saying that the debunking of this claim is a "Labour line repeated by Jeremy Corbyn".
Gove said it is important that there is "independent corroboration", and placed the government's rebranding of its own Twitter account as 'factcheck UK' in that category.
Twitter has confirmed that the Conservatives misled the public by renaming the @CCHQpress account in this way but Gove said that the party was "absolutely right" to do this.
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