Labour suggests Rupert Murdoch influenced May cabinet choice – Irish Times
In a letter to Theresa May, Labourâs deputy leader Tom Watson asked her to make clear whether the News Corp executive chairman had ever suggested Mr Gove should be given a ministerial job or warned that failure to take his advice might lead to âconsequencesâ in terms of his newspapersâ coverage of her administration.
Mr Goveâs appointment as environment secretary just 11 months after the prime minister sacked him from the cabinet was the biggest surprise of Sundayâs post-election reshuffle.
The former education secretary, who stood unsuccessfully against Mrs May for the Conservative leadership after clashing with her over the handling of extremism in schools, worked for the News Corp-owned Times before entering politics and returned to the paper following his departure from government last year.
His return to the cabinet was seen as a concession to hard Brexiteers to balance the appointment of Remain-backing Damian Green as first secretary of state.
In his letter Mr Watson said: âIt has been suggested to me that Rupert Murdoch asked you to appoint Michael Gove to the cabinet. 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.â
In the interests of âtransparency and proprietyâ, Mr Watson said he wanted the prime minister to make clear whether Mr Murdoch had ever made suggestions to her about ministerial or staff appointments; whether he had ever suggested Mr Gove should be made a minister; and whether he had ever suggested âthere might be consequences if you fail to take his advice, in terms of his newspapersâ coverage of you and your government?â
In a cheeky sign-off, Mr Watson ended his letter to Mrs May: âCongratulations on your election campaign, by the way. Fantastic stuff, well done.â