Michael Gove has denied claims he exaggerated the impact of EU fishing policies on his father’s business to advance the case for Brexit.
The co-convener of the Leave campaign told a live television debate last week that the Common Fisheries Policy had “destroyed” his father’s business. The comment was underlined in a BBC documentary at the weekend, in which Ernest Gove himself said the CFP had “ruined the Scottish fishing industry”.
However, a report in the Guardian suggested Mr Gove snr had sold his Aberdeen fish processing business 30 years ago, rather than losing it due to pressures from the EU.
In a telephone interview, the justice secretary’s father told the newspaper: “It wasn’t any hardship or things like that. I just decided to call it a day and sold up my business and went on to work with someone else.”
Speaking in another live television debate on the EU last night, Mr Gove jnr hit out at the claims about his father’s business.
“My dad was rung up by a reporter from the Guardian who tried to put words into his mouth,” he said. “My dad has been clear, he was clear to the BBC on Sunday night, he was clear to me when I was a boy, that the business that he invested so much care and time in had to close as a result of the Common Fisheries Policy.”
Speaking on the BBC, Mr Gove jnr became emotional as he described how his father had hired two boys from the care system to work at EE Gove and Sons, giving them a place to stay in a spare room at his business.
“Those boys lost their home as a result of what happened. I know what my dad went through when I was a schoolboy and I don’t think that the Guardian or anyone else should belittle his suffering or try to get a 79-year-old man to serve their agenda instead of agreeing and being proud of what his son does.”
The Guardian last night published a full transcript of its interview with Mr Gove snr, and said the content has not been disputed.