The National:

SARAH Vine, AKA Mrs Michael Gove, wrote a fascinating column for the Mail this week. Ostensibly about Matt Hancock, it mused on the ill advisability of Cabinet Secretaries getting ideas above their station; not making adequate time for spouse and weans; needing to be reminded that back at their ranch they were not so much masters of the universe but all too ordinary chaps not above leaving their smalls on the floor. I may have made that last bit up, but you get the drift.

Warming to her theme, she wrote how much she admired her “former friend” Sam Cameron, for always ensuring that Dave stayed grounded, did his domestic bit, and remembered that there were two careers in this marriage. Naturally, Sarah was only writing about the Hancocks. Whoever else could she have had in mind?

Sam requires to be filed under “former friend” because Sarah’s hubby, having assured his boss, then the PM, that he would take no part in the Leave campaign, went on to front it with Boris. As you might imagine, this put a bit of a dampener on any thoughts of more Gove and Cameron's two family hols.

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Mr Gove has some form in the matter of stabbing his pals in the front. You will recall that the very morning Johnson planned to announce his campaign for the top job, his bosom pal Michael thought it the best moment to advise the nation that BJ didn’t have the skill set to be Prime Minister. (He gets some things right.) Mr Gove himself had a stab at clambering to the top of the greasy poll, but it transpired most of his party thought he lacked the right stuff too.

Which brings us to his latest foray over the Border. In truth we mustn’t be too discouraging of these day trips oop north, since they have a habit of putting a few more ticks in the Yes column. This time however, the hacks had some very specific questions for the Cabinet Secretary and all-around Mr Fixit.

How come a Covid contract awarded to chums of both Cummings and Gove was found to contain questions on attitudes to the Union and the sample included Scottish voters?

You could call his reply disingenuous, or you could just plain disbelieve his assertion that no taxpayer funds were used for “party political polling”. I am reminded of that old gag about telling when anyone is lying – “their lips moved.”

However, Gove went on to insist that “the contract was signed by others”, a Whitehall variation on “it wisnae me”. On the matter of an independence referendum, he found yet more ways to be ambivalent. There might be one sometime in the undefined future, he used to say. Then, more recently, certainly not in the lifetime of the current Westminster parliament.

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Of course he wouldn’t take a Scottish Government to court if they staged one themselves. Alternatively, he might.

You know these focus groups where they ask folks which animal or mammal a politician most reminds them of? For Mr G. put down eel. Slippery, sleekit, possibly poisonous. And off he slithered back south, one of the world’s least plausible Scotsmen.