Michael Gove: from Brexit hero to political clown
Gove was once project fear's leading critic, his "were all going to die of Brexit thirst" claims have made him its most ludicrous clown. He has betrayed himself and his values argues Dr Jon Stanley
The Mail on Sunday's recent article on the Environment Secretary's sudden embrace of Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement marks a new low for the recently reheated project fear, which can now apparently rely on the services of the Daily Mail & Mail on Sunday, and their newly acquired government shill par-excellence Harry Cole.
The article tells us that Defra Secretary Michael Gove believes we are at risk of running out of water if we leave the EU on WTO terms.
The stuff that falls out of the sky on what Europhiles have dubbed "a rainy little island". The article explains that chemicals used to treat water are volatile, cannot be stored and need to be imported from the EU. So the government has commissioned Operation Yellowhammer to alert government departments and, luckily, we the public to this Brexit themed cataclysm. I have an issue with it though.
Having read medicine and studied biochemistry at postgraduate level it turns out these claims are demonstrably nonsense to a degree that makes Cameron's world war three warnings seem informed and considered. To investigate this article's claims more closely. The article mentions some chemicals specifically: "In order to make water safe to drink, suppliers add chemicals, including fluorosilicic acid, aluminium sulphate, calcium hydroxide and sodium silicofluoride.
The most up to date GCSE syllabus for Chemistry, published when Gove as Secretary of State for Education is all we need to debunk project fear this time, so if you'll excuse me for getting stuck into the science part. It sets out basic scientific principles such as states of matter, acid and alkalis, salts and the nature of the Periodic Table. Group 1 of the periodic table houses the alkali metals.
ALL Group 1 compounds are non- volatile solids because they are strictly ionic. Almost all are very soluble in water which is handy when treating it. That's sodium silicofluoride dealt with. It's a salt that comes in crystal or powder form. It is so non volatile it is shipped to consumers in plastic bags in the post. Group 2 houses the alkaline earth metals.
A few beryllium compounds are covalent and therefore volatile. Beryllium however is extremely poisonous and not used anywhere near drinking water. Calcium however is very much ionic in nature. It's compounds are all solids at room temperature. Calcium hydroxide is better know as slaked lime and is used to raise the alkalinity of water, chiefly to minimise leaching of lead compounds from old plumbing. It has been in use since Roman times.
Supplied in plastic drums. Group 3 contains aluminium. This is a little trickier but most salts of strong acids are non volatile solids. Aluminium sulphate is the modern name for the first aluminium compound discovered: Alum.
Alum crystals are shipped in plastic drums or bags. Group 4 contains carbon and silicon. Silicon tetrafluoride is a gas at room temperature but is hydrated to form fluorosilicic acid. Like sodium silicofluoride its sole use in water treatment is fluoridation. Many EU countries don't bother with fluoridation anymore given there is plenty of it in toothpaste and mouthwash. One of these two fluorine compounds is slightly volatile. Neither are essential for safety. It's troubling this nonsense finds its way into an internal government document, and then on the doormats of the Mail's quickly declining readership with any semblance of credibility and without challenge.
Worse still Gove, formerly a leading critic of project fear's "so called experts", seems to have failed to do the most simple of checks to verify the claims before churning out scaremongering propaganda to the public. A conversation with his own children might have helped.
Anyone with a grasp of Key Stage 3 chemistry is able to work out every one of the chemicals listed involved in keeping water is safe are perfectly easily stored in plastic drums and bags and in no way time sensitive.
The UK produces plenty of its own supplies of chlorine too through the chlor-alkali industry. So what are these strange volatile chemicals so desperately needing our membership of the Customs Union? It just won't do, nor will publishing such a story without having at least some basic assessment of the evidence in house.
As one of the many derisory comments on the Daily Mail's website points out, next we will be being told that we wont be able to breath without the EU. As we are already at this level of absurdity at week one of May's fear campaign, I genuinely wouldn't rule it out. calvia, brighton, United Kingdom, 1 day ago Micheal Gove is in bed with TM both disgusting.
Next we will be told were going to run out of fresh air ...Wouldn't trust any of them Thankfully the British public are far, far, smarter than their masters think.
There will be water, water everywhere in the UK once we leave the EU, despite Brexit. It will all be safe to drink.
Dr Jon Stanley is senior health and research fellow at The Bow Group
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