Downing Street must be hopping mad with Theresa May and Michael Gove for pursuing their own row on the day of a Queen’s Speech that was carefully crafted so as not to rock the boat.
This morning, a ‘spokesperson for Michael Gove and Theresa May’ – a role which hitherto has never existed – issued a statement saying ‘the Department for Education and the Home Office take the problems in Birmingham schools and all issues relating to extremism very seriously. Michael Gove and Theresa May are working together to ensure we get to the bottom of what has happened in Birmingham and take the necessary steps to fix it.’
But now a ‘government spokesperson’ has issued yet another statement, saying ‘extremism anywhere in society is a serious problem and we are working together across government to deal with it. That was shown by the work of the Prime Minister’s Extremism Taskforce. There is no difference between the Education Secretary and the Home Secretary who are both working energetically together to tackle the challenge posed by any form of extremism.’
This is, as James explained this morning, not particularly precise. The two camps do have different views on how to tackle extremism: let some of it go as a ‘safety valve’, or tackle it at its roots. But there is quite clearly an attempt to make sure that the story of the day of the Queen’s Speech ends up having very little to do with the Queen’s Speech.
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