Education Secretary Michael Gove has continued his feud with Black Country MP Tom Watson by mocking him for seeking publicity.
Mr Gove was heavily criticised by Mr Watson, the Labour MP for West Bromwich East, after scrapping a £125 million school building scheme in Sandwell.
On one occasion, Mr Watson was silenced by the Commons Speaker after he pointed at the Education Secretary and shouted: “You’re a miserable pipsqueak of a man, Gove!”
Mr Watson later apologised for breaching Commons rules but said he was expressing his anger at the way Sandwell schools had been treated.
Mr Gove has now got his revenge with a series of sarcastic comments at Mr Watson’s expense, at a lunch for journalists in the House of Commons.
Mocking Mr Watson’s campaign to expose unethical practices at some newspapers, Mr Gove said: “I would single out for particular praise somebody whom I know is loved by many of you, and that’s Tom Watson. Tom seems to me to sum up everything that’s good in politics.
“He manages to pursue a cause without the slightest hint of self-regard in the way in which he prosecutes his case.
“And it’s that absence of ego and that reluctance to engage in self-promotion which I think recommends him as a model 21st century politician.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Watson revealed he had clashed with the Education Secretary the night before, by demanding to see copies of e-mails between Mr Gove and his spin-doctor in which they discussed cancelling Sandwell’s school building scheme.
Mr Gove refuses to publish the e-mails on the grounds that they are “political” rather than government documents. However, he may now be forced to make them public after Mr Watson
In his speech, Mr Gove also insisted there was no need for new media regulations.
He said: “It is undoubtedly the case that there were serious crimes which were committed, but we know that these crimes were serious because they broke – if the allegations are proved – the already existing criminal law.”