10 questions to Michael Gove over misuse of COVID funds

Last week, reports revealed that Michael Gove misused public money, through emergency Covid contracts intended for tackling the pandemic, to conduct secretive political campaigning on the Union.

It was uncovered that a £560,000 publicly-funded contract was given to Public First – a firm ran by former colleagues of Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings. The contract was then extended on the “urgent” orders of Gove to conduct research on “attitudes to the UK union.”

Boris Johnson’s Tory government is driven by rampant cronyism and sleaze. No matter how hard they try to play this down, this scandal cannot and will not disappear.

The SNP have published the 10 key questions that the Cabinet Office Minister must urgently answer.

Michael Gove must come clean over these 10 questions:

  1. Did the Prime Minister approve your decision to use a £560,000 emergency COVID contract to conduct constitutional campaigning on the union?
  2. Who did you share the polling results with? Will you publish these results in full?
  3. Were the devolved governments informed of your decision to conduct polling into attitudes towards the union with emergency COVID contracts?
  4. Was the Secretary of State for Scotland aware you were using an emergency COVID contract for polling on attitudes towards the union?
  5. What additional taxpayer funds have been used for political research during the pandemic?
  6. Was your “urgent” order in July 2020 to extend the emergency COVID contract to carry out polling on the union a reaction to the Sunday Times report that support for both the SNP and Scottish independence jumped to the highest level recorded by a Panelbase poll?
  7. Following the humiliation of the High Court case, will you now commit to a full public inquiry on this gross misuse of public money?
  8. As a government Minister, you have a responsibility and duty to spend public money in the public interest. Will you now take responsibility for your complete failure and apologise?
  9. Emails released during High Court proceedings show you lobbied for Public First. This biased and unlawful behaviour is a clear breach of the Ministerial Code. Why have you not referred yourself to the government’s independent adviser on Ministerial interests, Lord Geidt?
  10. Will you cooperate with Simon Case, Cabinet Secretary, so a full departmental investigation can be carried out on unlawful behaviour in the Cabinet Office?

It’s time for a full independent public inquiry into Tory sleaze and cronyism

If the Tory government genuinely believes it has nothing to hide or that it’s done nothing wrong, then there’s no reasons Michael Gove wouldn’t set the record straight – and no reasons why Boris Johnson wouldn’t urgently commit to a full public inquiry.

While we’re still in the middle of a deadly pandemic, all of our efforts must be on saving lives – not secretively handing public money to Tory cronies for political campaigning.

This broken Westminster system isn’t working in Scotland’s interests, and Scotland can do so much better.

Only with independence will we be able to properly protect Scotland’s wishes and interests, and secure a fairer recovery that works for all – not the Tories and their privileged pals.