Tom Watson has written to Theresa May to ask whether Rupert Murdoch had any influence over her cabinet reshuffle.
The deputy Labour leader has asked the PM to confirm whether the media mogul demanded she appoint Michael Gove to his new role as environment secretary - less than a year after she originally sacked him.
Watson writes: “Given your failure to secure a parliamentary majority and the consequent weakness of your position, it might be tempting to allow yourself to be influenced by powerful media proprietors who can shape the way your government is covered.”
The Midlands MP goes on to ask the PM to answer the following questions ‘in the interests of transparency and propriety’:
- Since you became Prime Minister, has Rupert Murdoch ever made suggestions to you about ministerial or staff appointments?
- Since you became Prime Minister, has Rupert Murdoch ever suggested to you that Michael Gove should be given a ministerial role?
- Has Rupert Murdoch ever suggested to you that there might be consequences if you fail to take his advice, in terms of his newspapers’ coverage of you and your government?
May’s shock decision to invite Gove back into the cabinet has been cited as a sign of her vastly weakened position following last week’s election disaster.
His appointment has also been heavily criticised by political opponents and environmental campaigners, who say the former education and justice secretary is not up to the job.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said he was ‘not aware’ of any conversations with Murdoch and that all cabinet appointments had been made by Theresa May.
“Michael Gove has a well of experience in cabinet and he will be an excellent addition to the team,” he added.