Michael Gove grilled on Chris Philp’s ‘witty’ joke
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Michael Gove became the punchline of an awkward joke made by Policing Minister Chris Philp during a Crimestoppers fundraising event. Mr Philp, who was appointed to his role just last month, suggested the Levelling Up Secretary would be “excited” to hear about a large shipment of cocaine that was recently uncovered by police. The comment, delivered as part of an after-dinner speech to chief constables, alluded to prior reports in which Mr Gove has confessed to taking drugs on “several occasions” in the past.
Discussing the comments of his colleague, Mr Gove told GB News: “Chris [Philp] was giving a witty after-dinner speech.
“My view is that if we were to ban people making jokes about politicians then it would be a sorry, sorry state.
“Chris is a deft and witty speaker and as far as I was concerned the appropriate response was for everyone to smile wryly and to laugh heartily.”
Referencing a tip-off to the Crimestopper hotline about the enormous cocaine shipment found in a lorry, Mr Philp told fundraiser attendees: “Michael Gove was quite excited about that.”
The comment reportedly received a number of shocked gasps from the audience, to which Mr Philp asked: “What? Too much?”
In 2019, Mr Gove told the Daily Mail: “I took drugs on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago. At the time I was a young journalist. It was a mistake. I look back and I think, I wish I hadn’t done that.”
An “inside source” reportedly revealed to the paper that Mr Gove had admitted to taking cocaine when asked about his history with drugs.
The news broke as the now Levelling Up Secretary was in the midst of a Tory leadership battle following the resignation of Theresa May.
Referencing his past drug use, Mr Gove insisted: “I don’t believe that past mistakes disqualify you.”
Read more: Policing is in crisis and the chief constables are the problem
At the time, the revelations of Mr Gove were welcomed by some of his Conservative Party colleagues.
Dominic Raab, who at the time was also a contender for the Tory leadership, suggested his rival should not be excluded from the leadership battle in light of his history with drugs.
Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I certainly don’t see it barring him from this race in any way. I rather admire his honesty.”
The now Deputy Prime Minister has previously admitted to using cannabis as a student, though he explained his use of the drug was “pretty few and far between”.
He has, however, described class A drug use as a “bit different” to cannabis use.
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During his Crimestoppers speech, Mr Philp also reportedly made light of government controversies and mocked a number of other fellow Conservative MPs.
He suggested the “government could learn from” the charity’s commitment to confidentiality.
His comments follow a probe into Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s sharing of Home Office documents, which involved use of her personal email account and mobile phone while conducting government business.
Mr Philp ridiculed the government chaos that has followed the resignation of Boris Johnson as he highlighted: “I’m the fourth Policing Minister since July.”
The Daily Mail reported a guest at the dinner described Mr Philp’s speech as “extraordinarily ill-judged,” adding: “It wouldn’t surprise me if we soon have a fifth Policing Minister.”
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