Watch: Michael Gove’s long silence when asked to name Nicola Sturgeon’s big success

Michael Gove was being interviewed by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg - Jeff Overs/BBC
Michael Gove was being interviewed by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg - Jeff Overs/BBC
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Michael Gove has struggled to name Nicola Sturgeon’s “biggest achievement” after an excruciatingly long silence in a live TV interview during which he considered his response.

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg challenged the Levelling Up Secretary to state what he considered the most significant success of the First Minister to be.

The question appeared to stump Mr Gove, who said “um” before staring at the floor with a perplexed expression while he contemplated his answer.

After eight seconds, a huge amount of dead air in a broadcast interview, he finally lifted his head to Ms Kuenssberg and gave his response.

“I don’t want to say anything, uh, er, bad or, what’s the word, er, negative about Nicola Sturgeon. Because I think that she is a dedicated public servant, and she’s devoted her life to public service,” he said.

“And as First Minister of Scotland, I worked with her during the pandemic. I know that she was committed to coming to the right conclusions in the interest of the people of Scotland. I fundamentally disagree with her on many things, but I wish her well.”

Asked the same question on ITV’s Loose Women last week, Ms Sturgeon claimed Scotland “walks taller in the world than it did” and highlighted her government’s baby box scheme and handing more benefits to low-income families with children.

Learning to drive

Mr Gove’s assessment came as Ms Sturgeon disclosed she was in the “early stages” of learning to drive as she prepared for life without a ministerial limousine.

The 52-year-old told the BBC’s Nicola Sturgeon Podcast: “Learning to drive back in the day was just one of the things I just never made the time to do because I was so focused on other things.

“Maybe part of stepping down is just achieving a bit of personal freedom that I’ve chosen not to have to the same extent because I’ve been pursuing this thing [politics]. So it’s part and parcel of the next phase of life.”

Ricky Bell, a long-time friend, told the podcast that the lessons had been a signal that Ms Sturgeon was thinking about quitting as First Minister.

He said: “You don’t need driving lessons if you are going to be chauffeur-driven as the First Minister.”

He added: “She said to me many years ago she didn’t want to sit her driving test in case she failed, because up until that point in her life she had never failed an exam.”