An emotional Michael Gove tonight accused the Guardian of putting words in his father’s mouth amid a row over whether the EU destroyed his family business.
The Vote Leave campaigner has previously claimed the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy caused his father’s Aberdeen-based fishing business to “go to the wall”.
Today, the Guardian ran a piece seeming to contradict that view, with quotes from Gove’s father, Ernest, saying he sold his business voluntary and there was no “hardship” involved.
Appearing on a special edition of BBC’s Question Time tonight, Gove repeated the claim the EU’s fisheries policy was the reason for the sale.
He said: “My dad was rung up by a reporter from the Guardian who tried to put words into his mouth but my dad has been clear – he was clear to the BBC on Sunday night, he was clear to me when I was boy that the business that invested so much care and time in had to close as a result of the Common Fisheries Policy.”
Gove then became visibly emotional and said: “I know what my dad went through when I was a schoolboy and I don’t think the Guardian or anyone else should belittle his suffering or try to get a 79-year-old man to serve their agenda instead of agreeing and being proud of what his son does.”
The journalist who wrote the story, Severin Carrell, took to Twitter to defend himself against the claims.
In the article, Gove Snr said: “It wasn’t any hardship or things like that. I just decided to call it a day and sold up my business and went on to work with someone else,” he said.
“[I] couldn’t see any future in it, that type of thing, the business that I had, so I wasn’t going to go into all the trouble of having hardship. I just decided to sell up and get a job with someone else. That was all.”
In a statement issued later, Gove Snr appeared to backtrack on his earlier comments.
He said: “I don’t know what this reporter is going on about.
“Everybody in the north-east knows it was Europe that did such damage to the fish trade. The common fisheries policy was a disaster, not just for Aberdeen, but all of Scotland. There wasn’t any future for my business. It closed as a direct result of Europe.”