People Feature

Michael Gove

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Conservative MP for Surrey Heath

Michael Gove is Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and MP for Surrey Heath.

After graduating from Oxford University, Michael began a career in journalism, culminating in his role as a columnist on The Times newspaper. Michael was first elected as MP for Surrey Heath in 2005. In 2006 he joined the Conservative front bench as Shadow Housing Minister, and in 2007 he was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. Following the Conservatives’ return to government in 2010, Michael served as Secretary of State for Education, Chief Whip and Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.

As Education Secretary between 2010 and 2014, Michael led a comprehensive programme of education reform which included establishing hundreds of new “free” schools - similar to US charters – and transforming thousands of schools into academies which give headteachers greater control over pay, recruitment, discipline and teaching. He introduced a new, more rigorous, curriculum, ensured rigour in vocational education and ended grade inflation in exams. He reformed school funding to support the most disadvantaged students and improved teacher training standards. Thanks to these reforms, 1.4 million more children are now taught in good and outstanding schools.

As Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Michael put in place a prison reform programme designed to cut crime by reducing reoffending. He set out to improve work and educational opportunities for offenders, give prison governors greater operation freedom and provide new incentives for rehabilitation. He also overhauled the handling of Islamist extremism in the prison system and launched Unlocked - a new recruitment programme to attract university graduates into the prison service.

During the 2016 EU referendum campaign, Michael was co-convenor of the campaign committee for Vote Leave. He took a leading role in the campaign, making the case for leaving the EU in special referendum programmes on the BBC and Sky. Michael came third in the Conservative leadership contest which saw Theresa May become Prime Minister. He then spent a year on the backbenches, helping found the organisation Change Britain and serving as Vice-Chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Exiting the European Union.

Following the 2017 General Election, Michael returned to Cabinet as Environment Secretary. He has set out a vision for a “Green Brexit” and taken steps to restore UK control over fishing policy, ban microbeads which harm ocean wildlife, end the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2040, and enhance animal welfare by making CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses.

Michael is married to Sarah, a Columnist with the Daily Mail and they have two children, Beatrice and William.

Michael has published studies of the Northern Ireland Peace Process and the West’s response to Islamist Terrorism, and is a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College Oxford.

Michael Gove