Will Gove be next PM? He’s smart, ambitious and dangerous.

by Hugo Dixon | 12.11.2017

Michael Gove has read the riot act to Theresa May, made peace with Boris Johnson and polished his image. If there’s a vacancy at 10 Downing Street, the hardline Brexiter is well placed to pounce.

Gove was reviled among Tories when he stabbed Johnson in the back after last year’s referendum. Instead of supporting the foreign secretary’s bid to become prime minister, he ran himself – and failed miserably.

But Gove, who was Vote Leave’s campaign chair, is now the comeback kid. He and Johnson jointly wrote a letter to May last month, warning her not to deviate from their hard Brexit line, according to the Mail on Sunday.

After a terrible two weeks, in which the Cabinet has started to fall apart, May’s position is again precarious. There are now 40 Tory MPs who want her to quit, according to the Sunday Times.

If the prime minister is either kicked out or quits, the Tories will need to pick a new leader. The party’s MPs will first whittle the field of candidates down to two; the members will then choose who becomes leader and, hence, prime minister.

The first stage of the process is likely to result in a battle between a hard Brexiter and a soft one. Gove is looking more and more like the standard bearer of the hardliners. Johnson’s star has faded, not least because his incautious comments may lead to a British woman being locked up for an extra five years in an Iranian jail.

David Davis no longer looks such a strong contender either, because he is not on top of his brief of negotiating Brexit. Dominic Cummings, Gove’s former aide, has branded the Brexit secretary as “thick as mince” and “lazy as a toad” – a barb that has stuck. Meanwhile, Priti Patel has been forced to quit the Cabinet because of her freelance foreign policy and nobody takes Liam Fox seriously.

If Gove emerged as the hard Brexiter candidate, he would be favourite to win the contest against any soft Brexiter, because Tory party members are enthusiastic to burn our bridges with the EU.

What sort of Brexit would we then get? Gove is trying to sound emollient. On the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today, he said he wouldn’t stop May offering more money to the EU to get a deal – despite the fact that he shares the blame for Vote Leave’s lie that we send £350 million a week to the EU.

But don’t be fooled. Gove’s goal is to do whatever it takes to get out of the EU and he is smart enough to know that trying to crash out with no deal at all might torpedo his dream. Once we are out of the EU, he wants a very hard Brexit indeed.

So watch out for Gove. He’s clever, ambitious and dangerous.

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16 Responses to “Will Gove be next PM? He’s smart, ambitious and dangerous.”

  • However bad the rest are, Gove must be the worst.; slimy, conniving, unable to answer a question – hopefully it does not come to that.
    In fact, with the exception of Hammond – who could not a get a Brexiter to accept him at all – nobody in the cabinet seems suitable.
    I suggest Graham Brady has the experience, quiet confidence and hopefully the ability to recognize what is staring the Tories in the face. If they don’t make staying in an option, they will lose to Corbyn who is almost at that stage.

  • Gove suffers from the same problem as Johnson. A 24 hour time view of priorities.

    They’ve earnt their livings writing columns which only have to stand up to a day’s scrutiny, ie not that much, mbefore they line the bottom of the budgie’s cage and are forgotten.

    So Gove in his responsibility for Agriculture prattles on about doubling our pig’s ear exports as we won’t have to tag both ears after Brexit. A couple of days later we learn that’s rubbish, that farmers don’t have to tag ears. But it doesn’t get the same publicity.

    I still don’t understand how he’s still there after that weird Times column in May arguing his boss May wasn’t capable of delivering a true Brexit as she had latent Catholic tendencies as evidenced by giving up crisps for Lent. AApparently the EU represents Catholic values and Brexit Protestant values.

    As for Johnson, in his August Telegraph manifesto he was extolling that after leaving the EU we’d be able to pursue the same policies as Germany and France. If he’d bothered to re-read his copy before submitting it, he might have realised his chosen examples were in the EU.

    As Micaela White astutely points out, they are two frivolous men pretending to be serious politicians.

    Neither will ever accept responsibility for their errors.

  • Is it true that a majority of the Tory parliamentary party are anxious to burn our bridges with the EU? I thought that at the time of the referendum a majority of the Tory Party, and the Labour parliamentary party were in favor of staying in the EU.

    Since the referendum of course parliament has been hijacked by ” the Will of the People ” and does not dare to address the issue of whether Brexit is in the interests of the UK or not But how come this change of option of the Tory party ( I exclude the Europhobes ) traditionally the Party of business to propose leaving the Single Market which is so obviously commercial nonsense?

  • I think alot will depend on how much bottle pro-Europe Tories have. Gove as PM might tempt more of them into rebellion. However, if they just want a quiet life, or are worried about de-selection, I’m afraid many will be tempted to go with the flow of mainstream opinion in the Conservative party. Which of course, is not the reason someone should be going into politics.
    The Government is trying to stifle debate and scrutiny on the terms of Brexit and MPs must not let them get away with it. The biggest danger is that the Government will manoeuvre a final vote at the last minute, with the ultimatum that if they don’t accept the deal on offer, it will be no deal and/or a Corbyn government.
    Pro-Europe MPs must not let it get to that stage.

  • And let’s see if a PM Gove will take advice from the likes of you know…..EXPERTS whether they be economists, military analysts, generals, environmentalists, business people, etc. Or will he become sick of hearing from experts when they once again give him advice he does not like.

  • Interesting comment by @David Marshland, I hadn’t spotted Gove’s piece in the Times in May– do you have perchance a link to it? Good to accumulate the evidence against the toad 😉

    With thanks

  • GOD FORBID !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    He’s another waste of space, with a face like a petulant child, along with all the other timewasters in this appalling government. The sooner it’s gone the better. Corbyn would be preferable, not by much, perhaps, but anything is better than this shower.

  • If Gove ever becomes prime minister and puts forward the same quality of ideas as he did when education secretary GOD HELP US !! and my wife who was a school teacher says all other teachers would say the same.

  • If Macron can win in France, then Gove can win in the UK. Time to dust off your Canvassing Shoes, and get out to support Corbyn.

    Murdoch will scream 150% to get Gove elected. That might even work against him though.

  • Belated reply to David Quinn.
    No: it isn’t true that a majority of the Tory parliamentary party [i.e. Tory MPs] are anxious to burn our bridges with the EU. Indeed: not only did a majority support Remain, a majority of them represent Remain-voting constituencies.
    What is true however (as the article said) is that a majority of Tory party members are anxious … . Since the members pick between the two left standing after the MPs have voted, and since the members are the extremists among Tory voters in general, this is very unfortunate. May is much influenced by the hardest Brexiteers. And if she were replaced, it would almost certainly be by one of the hardest Brexiteers. And Gove would seem to be the most likely to be put to the membership.