THE UK Government is facing allegations it may have “siphoned off Covid funds for its own political party ends” in order to work on Michael Gove’s secret report on the “risk” to the Union.

Extracts from the Levelling Up Secretary’s previously unpublished “State of the Union” report were shown to the UK Covid Inquiry as he gave evidence on Monday, and raised questions about the Tories’ politicisation of the pandemic.

Gove’s report, which was presented to the Tory Cabinet in July 2020, contained polling data and analysis which was used to urge ministers to make Unionism a “cornerstone” of everything they do.

READ MORE: 'Rank hypocrisy': Anger as Michael Gove pens secret Union report mid-pandemic

“Absent Covid-19, I am firmly of the view that the risk to the Union would be the greatest challenge this Government needed to confront,” Gove wrote in the secret paper.

The Tories are now facing questions about the funding which was used to produce the Unionist document.

In August 2020, a Financial Times story confirmed that Gove had made a Unionist presentation to Cabinet. It reported: “The address by Mr Gove, backed by polling evidence presented by Isaac Levido, a key adviser, was described by an onlooker as the ‘penny-dropped moment’.”

The National:

Levido (above), who was involved in the State of the Union report, had been hired in March 2020 to work for the UK Government on Covid messaging.

He had led Boris Johnson’s successful 2019 General Election campaign, and has since been brought in to run Rishi Sunak’s in 2024.

The consultancy firm Levido co-founded, Fleetwood Strategy, was handed a £124,000 Covid contract without competitive tender in April 2020, the month after he was brought into the Tory government.

Levido stepped down as a director of Fleetwood Strategy that same April, before taking on the role again in July.

There are questions around whether he was working with Gove on a report on Unionism while he was ostensibly on the UK Government payroll for Covid messaging.

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Tommy Sheppard, the SNP’s Scotland spokesperson at Westminster, said: “It’s nothing short of a scandal that staggering sums of taxpayer money has found its way into the pockets of the Tories’ pals without scrutiny. In this case, it appears the UK Government siphoned off Covid funds for its own political party ends – an insult to all those who suffered during the pandemic.

“The public deserve answers over why a firm co-founded by the man who ran the Tories’ General Election campaign was awarded £124,000 and how it came to be that his focus shifted from public health messaging to the political agenda of the Conservative and Unionist Party.”

Sheppard has been in a five-year freedom of information battle with the UK Government department as it has flatly refused to release internal polling on the Union conducted with taxpayer money.

The Cabinet Office paper for 2020-2021 says that to "maintain the integrity of the Union" was its number one priority.

The SNP MP went on: “While this revelation is shocking, it is not the first time the government’s awarding of Covid contracts has come into question nor is it the first time Gove has hired companies to research public attitudes to the Union.

“My own five-year battle with the Cabinet Office over the disclosure of Union polling trundles on with the Tories going to extraordinary lengths to keep this information secret.

“This is just another example of what we’ve come to expect from Gove and his cronies.”

The Cabinet Office paper for 2020-2021 says that to "maintain the integrity of the Union" was its number one priority.

The UK Government did not respond to The National’s request for comment.