The National:

THE coronavirus crisis has limited Michael Gove’s ability to excel.

The Cabinet Office Minister has had to take a back seat while Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson do most of the high-profile blundering, with even the odd star turn from Priti Patel.

But Gove is never one to be out of the spotlight for long.

He faced an urgent question in the Commons today from SNP MP Margaret Ferrier. She wanted to know whether the UK Government would seek an extension to the Brexit transition period to help ensure businesses don’t suffer from a chaotic European exit.

Ferrier said: “The IMF and business leaders want the government to reduce economic uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Recent polling found that two-thirds of the public want an extension to the transition period.

“I know the minister is not always fond of expert opinion but will he heed their warnings and buy business extra time to adapt to the economic headwinds that Brexit will bring?”

WATCH: Michael Gove refuses to call SNP by their proper name

Typifying his government’s regard for transparency, Gove completely ignored the question and instead opted to talk about independence, which it turns out he’s not a great fan of.

The Tory began by trumpeting the somewhat dubious claim that he is “very fond of expert opinion”.

He added: “The universal view of experts is that Scotland operates the largest deficit in Europe.

“Were Scotland to become independent it would be perilous for the people of the country that I love and that is why the union that works, the United Kingdom, should endure.”

FACT CHECK: Scotland’s '7% deficit' – is it the worst in Europe?

Now were Gove to be true to his word, he might have taken a closer look at Scotland’s supposed deficit.

The Scottish Government in fact runs an annual surplus and has done so every year since 2007. Scotland only has a notional deficit if elements of endemic UK deficit are apportioned hypothetically to the normal Holyrood surplus, as happens in the annual Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) paper exercise.

But hey, people are sick of experts anyway. Right Michael?