Minister risks domestic strife with language choice


A UK cabinet minister has apologised for using the term "welshed" in the House of Commons.

Education secretary Michael Gove told MPs he'd been invited by a Labour MP to visit the Potteries in Staffordshire but "welshed on the deal".

The Speaker, John Bercow, intervened to say: "I think the Secretary of State meant 'reneged'."

Later, Mr Gove, a Scot, apologised, telling the Speaker: "May I thank you for correcting my vocab.

"I would hate to be thought guilty of Cymruphobia especially as someone married to a Welsh girl."

Mr Bercow said: "We are very, very grateful to the Secretary of State, for his knowledge and indeed for his pronounciation".

Not everyone was as impressed by his pronounciation - it's not clear whether he meant cymrophobia (fear of Welsh people) - or Cymruphobia (fear of Wales).

Links between the verb and the country are disputed but some do find it offensive and Mr Gove isn't the only political figure to have apologised for use of it.

I'm grateful to Matt Withers of Media Wales for alterting the twittersphere to its use by C J Cregg, a spin doctor in the US political drama West Wing.

Matt says it was series 5, episode 12, which apparently was called "Slow News Day", something I've thus far been unable to verify.

He also reports that Bill Clinton apologised to Republicans in 1995 for calling them "Welshers".

Mr Gove is married to The Times journalist, Sarah Vine, who will doubtless be receiving a rather large bunch of daffodils this Thursday, St David's Day.

David Cornock Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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