Anger and recrimination as Gove starts apology tour

By staff

Michael Gove will have to visit the schools he disappointed with inaccurate information about their building projects following a public apology to the Commons.

The education secretary will travel around the country to say sorry to schools in person for the mistake.

He had to make an apology to the Commons last night after it emerged that a list presented to the House on Monday detailing which schools would have building projects cancelled was inaccurate.

Several schools which thought they had received good news on Monday have now discovered that their building projects have, in fact, been cancelled, prompting spectacular anger from Labour MPs in their area.

Tom Watson stood up to brand Mr Gove a “miserable pipsqueak”, a comment the Speaker ordered him to withdraw.

Mr Gove said: “I’m grateful to you and to the whole House for granting me the opportunity to make this statement, and once again to unreservedly apologise.”

The apology was for breaching parliamentary etiquette in the way the list was released and for the inaccuracies in it.

Shadow education minister Vernon Coaker said: “The chaos and confusion around this statement was frankly astonishing”.

He claimed Mr Gove had had to be dragged to the House “kicking and screaming” to apologise.

Earlier in the day there had been some confusion about whether Mr Gove would write to apologise to the Speaker or whether he should apologise in person to the House. Mr Coaker argued the latter option was more suitable and the Speaker agreed.

In a sign of the coalition’s embarrassment over the issue, Mr Gove will now travel to individual schools to apologise for the incident.

Nine schools in Sandwell, West Midlands, were affected, as was one in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

A total of 715 schools hoping for rebuilding under the Building Schools for the Future programme bit the dust under the new government plans.