Michael Gove: More Whitehall departments will move away from London

Scottish ministers “recognise the benefit” of UK Government departments setting up bases north of the border, Michael Gove has insisted – as he said further Whitehall departments were likely to migrate away from London.

On a visit to Glasgow on Monday following the announcement of the creation of 1,000 UK Government jobs in the west of Scotland, Mr Gove described the mood surrounding the migration of UK Government departments north of the border as one of “enthusiasm and excitement”.

He said any “minister-to-minister” discussions with the Scottish Government focused entirely on how the two administrations could work together.

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Mr Gove also told the Scottish electorate that every vote for the Scottish Conservatives in the coming Holyrood elections would “cut the SNP and cut Nicola Sturgeon down to size”.

Michael Gove, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, was speaking in Glasgow this morning.

Announcing 500 extra jobs at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in East Kilbride, Mr Gove said further Whitehall departments were likely to migrate away from London.

The roles announced on Monday morning are in addition to 500 jobs linked to the creation of a second flagship headquarters for the Cabinet Office with ministerial offices in Glasgow, which SNP MP Alison Thewliss jokingly described as an “embassy”.

The Scottish Government has recently warned of a "systematic attack” on devolution by Westminster, due to initiatives such as Westminster's ‘Levelling Up’ fund for infrastructure projects and a tendency by the UK Government and Parliament to regularly legislate in devolved policy areas.

Mr Gove said: “I know there will be future announcements from other government departments about other relocations of significant parts of government and I think that’s a good thing. It means more people making decisions are closer to those affected by those decisions.”

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Mr Gove said the feeling in the UK Government had be one of “enthusiasm and excitement” at more jobs being spread across the UK.

He said: “The UK Government and the Scottish Government have a responsibility not just to work together, but also to listen to the voices of people in society and in business and elected representatives of local government at every level and that’s what we’re seeking to do.

"When I talk to my colleagues in the Scottish Government, almost every conversation that we have on a minister-to-minister level is a pragmatic conversation about how we can work together.

"Whether I’m talking to [economy, fair work and culture secretary] Fiona Hyslop about how we can support Scottish business, or [rural economy] Fergus Ewing about food and drink, or [health secretary] Jeane Freeman about how we deal with vaccine hesitancy, what we are sharing is ideas and working together – which is why it would be a pity if people’s energies were diverted at this critical time when we have the important task of making sure our recovery is effective and sustainable.”

Mr Gove added: “We know that every vote for the Scottish Conservatives is a vote to cut the SNP and cut Nicola Sturgeon down to size and that seems to me to be the wisest thing to do.”

In response to news of the Cabinet Office jobs at the end of last week, Ms Thewliss had quipped “that's an awful lot of staff for an embassy”.

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