Tom Watson has written to the prime minister to enquire.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson has written to Theresa May, asking if media mogul Rupert Murdoch had any input into her cabinet reshuffle.
Watson says it has been suggested to him that ‘Rupert Murdoch asked you to appoint Michael Gove to the cabinet’ and said that given her ‘failure to secure a parliamentary majority and the consequent weakness of [her] position, it might be tempting to allow yourself to be influenced by powerful media proprietors who can shape the way your government is covered.’
He then asks a series of questions related to the prime minister’s dealings with Murdoch.
Gove was re-appointed to the cabinet yesterday, less than a year after May triumphantly sacked him as part of her purge of David Cameron’s ‘Notting Hill set’. The fact that he was given responsibility for DEFRA — one of the cabinet’s least appealing portfolio’s — reflects the reluctance with which May brought him back into the fold.
Gove and Murdoch have long enjoyed a cosy relationship. During the Leveson Inquiry, Gove called Murdoch ‘one of the most impressive and significant figures of the last 50 years’, while Murdoch has praised the former education secretary’s ‘admirable character’.
Within months of his sacking from the cabinet last year Gove was re-hired by the Times, writing columns and book reviews for a reported £150,000 a year.
Perhaps most bizarrely, when Gove carried out the UK media’s first interview with the newly-elected Donald Trump last year, Murdoch sat in on the conversation — but Gove didn’t think to declare that in his piece.