Michael Gove has defended his decision to strike a thumps-up pose with Donald Trump following his interview with the president-elect for The Times.
The Conservative MP and Times columnist has been criticsed for appearing to be too friendly with Trump. Gove conducted the interview alongside Kai Diekmann from the German newspaper Bild - who notably did not join in with a thumbs-up.
Appearing the BBC’s Daily Politics programme today, Gove was asked whether it was “professional” for an interviewer to behave in that way.
“The photographer did brilliant job, yes,” Gove said. “I think I’ve got a smile on my face and so has he. So if it provokes a smile of anyone reading the newspapers then we are entertaining as well as informing.”
“If people think it was shoddy journalism then I can only apologise. I am still a relative newcomer to the trade. I will hope to do better with my next story,” he added.
Gove was a journalist before being elected to parliament in 2005. He now writes a weekly column for The Times having failed in his bid to be elected Conservative Party leader.
His interview with Trump, in which the president-elect suggested a trade deal with the UK could be done “quickly” following Brexit, has dominated the news on Monday.
Labour MP Mary Creagh, who was also a guest on the programme, challenged Gove over whether it was acceptable for him to act as both a politician and a journalist at the same time.
“Michael, you were elected by the people in Surrey to represent them, and yet you talk about ‘my job there was to generate news’ not to stand up for some of the outrageous things that Trump has said. Nothing mentioned in your interview questions about his comments on women - which find disgraceful,” she said.
The former shadow cabinet minister said there were “real questions” Gove had to answer about combining being an MP and a journalist.
Gove noted that several politicians have also held both jobs - including former Labour leader Michael Foot.
Creagh told him: “Michael Foot would never have done that stunt ever in a million years.”