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Michael Gove exercising ‘Christian forgiveness’ toward Tory donor over Diane Abbott’s remarks

by Kelly Valencia
Micahel Gove.JPG - Banner image

Michale Gove has said he is exercising “Christian forgiveness” towards Tory donor and businessman Frank Hester over his comments about Labour MP Diane Abbott.

Speaking to Sky News on Thursday, the communities secretary said the remarks were “horrific” but noted that Hester had made a “genuine apology” and had shown “real contrition.”

Earlier this week, The Guardian revealed Hester had told colleagues that looking at Diane Abbott makes you “want to hate all black women” and said the MP “should be shot”.

The comments were swiftly condemned by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, as well as opposition politicians. Hester apologised but insisted his words had "nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin".

However, in light of the government’s new definition of extremism, Gove was asked whether Hester's remarks would meet the new threshold.

He told Sky News: "It's important to recognise... the government that we have is the most diverse in the Western world, and Mr Hester was giving money in order to support a British Asian prime minister, so I think it is important to put that in context.”

"But again, it's right that Mr Hester should be called out for his words and it is also right that he should apologise. I understand that he has and shown full contrition."

Sky News' Wilfred Frost questioned if the apology could be genuine without the Tory donor admitting the alleged comments were racist and misogynistic. Gove replied: "I think that when someone says they are sorry - and I understand he's deeply sorry for these remarks - then my natural inclination is to exercise Christian forgiveness."

Abbott has called the alleged comments "frightening" and "alarming".

It is not the first time Gove has resorted to this type of forgiveness. In 2022, during an interview with Andrew Neil at GB News, he urged people to show “Christian forgiveness” to the Prime Minister and government staff who broke the rules relating to so-called "partygate" events at Downing Street.

He said: “The Prime Minister has been clear that mistakes were made and he’s taken responsibility for those. I’m sure that when the report is published there will be from individuals concerned recognition, contrition and so on and you know we owe them an element of Christian forgiveness.”

Gove has consistently been open about his Christian faith. In 2018, during his tenure as Environment Secretary, he delivered a notable speech laden with Christian references, urging action on climate change and criticising sceptics. This speech evoked memories of another notable address, Margaret Thatcher's 'Sermon on the Mound'.

As Justice Secretary, Gove also shared how Christianity's focus on reconciliation and forgiveness influenced his approach to the role. While it is generally believed that Gove is a Roman Catholic, this has never been officially confirmed.

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