So has Michael Gove been caught home flipping? What I heard about the latest revelations, it struck me that he mentioned his home moving in an interview with The Spectator back in September last year. The write-up is here, but in the magazine piece I left out his full explanation behind his house move. Here it is:-So basically he moved rather than flipping, and, according to James Forsyth at the CoffeHouse, he made no money out it. Like some Labour MPs I'm guessing that some Tories may be consulting "learned friends" about the way the Telegraph has reported things. Similarly, Sky are reporting that Andrew Lansley changed his main residence when his daughter started school.
[Gove] "We lived full time in Surrey Heath and essentially the basic thing was the amount of time I had to spend with my family was so small and getting smaller that we just had to take a decision. My main aim was how can I maximise the amount of time that my wife and I have together and that we have with our children and so what we’ve done is we’ve taken back the house that we had in London and we’re there Monday to Thursday and then in the constituency Friday to Sunday. I am aware that many of my constituents commute but to my mind the best thing that I can do is be available when they need me, commit to working as hard as possible for them but also stress the importance of my family life generally. If people don’t see their family then sooner or later there will be a crash, a burn out and a heavy price to pay."
This struck me at the time as being oddly frank: he was saying he tried the commute, couldn't hack it, and told his constituents that for family reasons he was moving his family back to London which would have been his main home and he would spend three days a week in the constituency. Ergo, his second residence would change, from London to Surrey Heath. This isn't a Blears-style property speculation, but a genuine change of circumstances which he openly spoke about. I suspect there are terrible Tory sleaze stories to come, but the Gover moving back to London to try and protect his family life doesn't appear to be one of them.
The whole "flipping" thing on an MPs main/second residence looks to be one that, unless someone did it with odd and convenient economic circumstances, for example Margaret Moran, then it may be difficult to prove that a fiddle was the intent of the switch. Especially if, like Gove, you're on the record talking about it yonks ago because you really did move.
Note: Flipping or non-flipping aside, it doesn't excuse splashing out excessive amounts to do your place up of course.