Northern Ireland news

Michael Gove happy to sing The Sash, book reveals

Environment Secretary Michael Gove. Picture by Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire

TORY leadership hopeful Michael Gove has a long-held fascination with the Troubles and knew the words to loyalist anthem The Sash, a new biography reveals.

Sean O'Grady, a journalist who worked alongside the environment minister, recalls an eye-opening visit to Mr Gove's London flat in the 1990s.

"He had an enormous cartoon of the Ulster Unionist Party in parliament – a great big Orange banner type of affair," Mr O'Grady told Owen Bennett, author of Michael Gove: A Man in a Hurry.

Mr O'Grady, associate editor of the Independent, says Mr Gove's politics were "quite Orange".

He remembers the former education secretary's enthusiasm for unionism was a "bit odd"', adding: "he'd be perfectly happy to sing along with Orange songs – 'the sash my father wore', all that sort of stuff."

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Others too have witnessed Mr Gove belting out loyalist tunes.

Mike Elrick, who trained with him as a journalist, remembers the Conservative leadership contender as "very, very strongly supportive of Ulster Protestantism, and very much sided with the Protestant political parties".

"I remember him singing various Ulster songs – partly in jest, but he knew the words," he recalled.

In 2000, former journalist Mr Gove wrote a pamphlet called 'Northern Ireland: the Price of Peace', in which he compared the Good Friday Agreement to the appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s and the condoning of the desires of paedophiles.

The Scottish-born Brexiteer said the agreement was a “mortal stain” and “a humiliation of our army, police and parliament”, and that its 1998 endorsement on both sides of the border was a “rigged referendum”.

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