10:43PM GMT 09 Mar 2016
Michael Gove was today at the centre of an EU row after he was implicated in leaking details of a private conversation which suggested that the Queen favours leaving the EU.
The Justice Secretary refused to deny that he was the source of a leaked exchange between the Queen and four members of the Privy Council in April 2011. The conversation was reported in the Sun newspaper as evidence that the “Queen backs Brexit”, dragging Her Majesty into the row over Britain’s EU membership for the first time.
Buckingham Palace has issued a complaint to the press complaints watchdog over the report and insisted that the Queen was politically neutral.
There were calls today for Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, to open an urgent investigation into who revealed the details of the conversation, which is said to have taken place in Windsor Castle after a Privy Council meeting.
The Sun reported that the Queen expressed concerns about the direction the European Union was taking during a lunch attended by Mr Gove as well as Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister, Cheryl Gillan and Lord McNally, both former members of the Government.
The newspaper alleged that the Queen was critical about European integration and it claimed that a senior source said those present “were left in no doubt about her views on Europe”.
Mr Clegg and Lord McNally strenuously denied that they were the source of the story and described it as “nonsense”. Ms Gillan also denied being the source. However, Mr Gove’s spokesman said: “We don’t comment on private conversations with the Queen.”
Sources close to the Justice Secretary said that they “have no idea who the sources [of the leak] are”.
The dispute came on the day that Mr Gove was made the chairman of the campaigning committee of Vote Leave, the group calling for Britain to leave the EU.
Mr Gove attended the wedding of Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the Sun, at the weekend. It was also claimed that he had dinner with Mr Murdoch in the days before the wedding.
Mr Gove and News UK, which owns the Sun, refused to comment on the claims that the pair had met for dinner.
The Palace said: “The Queen remains politically neutral, as she has for 63 years. We will not comment on spurious, anonymously sourced claims. The referendum is a matter for the British people to decide.” Downing Street last night refused to comment on the claims. David Cameron had his regular audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace yesterday evening.
Sources close to one of the former ministers who attended the Windsor Castle lunch said the issue of the then ongoing eurozone crisis was raised.
“There was a discussion about Greece, about the eurozone crisis and how you protect European finances,” said one source with knowledge of the discussions. However, they maintained that the Queen had not expressed any concerns that could have led anyone to assume she wanted to leave the EU.
A leading expert on the Privy Council said that the source of the story would have had to breach an 800-year-old oath which is sworn by all privy counsellors.
Members swear not to divulge anything told them by the monarch when they are in his or her presence.
Wes Streeting, the Labour MP, has written to the Cabinet Secretary asking for an investigation into whether the Queen’s alleged comments were leaked in breach of strict protocol. Mr Streeting told Sir Jeremy: “If anyone present at the meeting in question were found to have disclosed information about what was discussed it would be an extremely serious breach of the rules of the Privy Council, and this possibility should, therefore, be thoroughly investigated and acted on accordingly.”
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said today: “We can confirm that we have this morning written to the chairman of the Independent Press Standards Organisation to register a complaint about the front page story in today’s Sun newspaper.
“The complaint relates to Clause 1 of the Editors’ Code of Practice.”
Clause 1 states: “The press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.”
Referring to the newspaper’s report, Mr Clegg said: “It is not true. I have certainly, absolutely no recollection of a conversation like that, which I suspect I would have remembered if it had taken place.”
He added: “I just think it’s wrong that people who want to take us out of the European Union now try and drag the Queen for their own purposes into this European referendum debate.”
A News UK spokesman said: “The Sun stands by its story, which was based upon two impeccable sources and presented in a robust, accessible fashion. The Sun will defend this complaint vigorously.”
The Queen's position is not a surprise. In an earlier article she once said she was concerned that if things keep going the way they are, someday there may be a non-English person (non-White) sitting on the throne.
I agree. I'm not a big fan of royalty, but if a country does have them, then the only ones who have a right to that throne are those of the race of that country. Anyone else is nothing less than an interloper. And when it comes to great Britain the race in question is the WHITE race.
Racially speaking, Queen Elizabeth is old school. I doubt she believes in integration and race mixing. For example, when Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, there were no non-White guests. At least I didn't see anything but pale faces in the audience. Even the Obama's were not invited.
It may have been William's wedding, but I'm sure his grandmother had to approve the guest list.
We are on the threshold now. Either our time has come again, or it's the beginning of the end. Only time will tell. However, we have something to say about it. If we sit on our asses and wait for "someone else" to do something, then we might as well give up now and accept our eventual extinction - either through genocide or race-mixing. It really doesn't matter which. Extinction is extinction regardless of the cause.
But if we stand up and fight for our Folk, at this critical time, we have a chance to turn things around and the oppressed will become the oppressors. It's happened before and it can happen again.