Gove goes for it as Boris backs out

© Ministry of Culture
Former partners Johnson and Gove.

THERE were just five candidates for leadership of the Conservative Party, and therefore future Prime Minister, when the window of opportunity closed at noon on June 30.

In the current climate, it is impossible to forecast anything with accuracy and the surprise decision by Michael Gove to act as Brutus against Boris Johnson’s Caesar came as so much of a surprise that Boris decided that he would not carry the blue rinse and Colonel Blimp brigade with him, so did not declare himself part of the race.

The candidates in possible order of popularity are:

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Theresa May who has been Home Secretary for six years, a slightly wishy-washy Remainer who kept a fairly low profile during the lead up to the referendum vote. Seen to be hard on immigration but considered by many to be somewhat austere and without the ‘common’ touch.

Michael Gove Justice Secretary who managed to make himself unpopular with most parents and teachers in the UK when Education Secretary. Perhaps less Brutus and more Macbeth as his wife is a Daily Mail writer and he enjoys the support of both Paul Dacre and Rupert Murdoch all of whom were Brexiteers.

Stephen Crabb, the young working class Works and Pensions Secretary who could appeal to the more centralist arm of the party although his relative inexperience and the fact that he was a Remainer could work against him.

Andrea Leadsom, the former banker who is currently Energy Secretary was well to the forefront of the Brexiteer campaign and is known for her strong stance on immigration.

Liam Fox, former Defence Secretary who stood as leader in 2005 and the only back bencher standing for election has very strong views on exit from the European Union and has already said that there should be no ‘backsliding’ in complying with the referendum result.

Apart from the unexpected decision by Boris Johnson not to compete, the other slightly less surprise withdrawal was from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt who had been indicating that he would like to become leader so that he could delay the invoking of Article 50.

With five candidates, the next step is for Conservative MPs to vote for their preferred candidate next week with on-going votes until just two names are left. Once this has been achieved, the final vote will rest with members of the party and the person with the most votes will then be declared leader on September 9.


  1. Thursday 30 June. Only 2 days ago Boris announced he would not hold a general election if he became the next Prime Minister – suggesting strongly he intended to stand for the Tory leadership contest. 2 days later he changes his mind and says he will not stand. Wow!

    Ok, we know already there was a “Stop Boris” campaign on the go within the Tory party so it is likely that he was persuaded by senior Tories that the type of scenario I painted in my reply to Mike this morning would almost certainly lead directly to the breakup of the UK. But will the new bookie’s favourite, Gove be any better at holding the UK together if he becomes PM? Unlikely. Maybe Theresa May would be a better choice, but as John points out above she is a bit wishy washy, austere and lacks the common touch. I suppose it’s possible one of the others will make it through the selection process but one thing’s for sure I don’t envy the winner!

    Keeping the UK together in the current situation will be a much harder task than it was when Cameron and Osborne managed to do it only 2 years ago.

  2. Glad Boris isn’t in the running, Crabb and May I just don’t trust. I hope Andrea Leadsom gets more support than she currently appears to be getting, she appears honest “or more that most politicians appear to be”, she has worked in the financial sector although in Banking but I have to admit I do like her more than most of the others if not more than all of them 😉

    After watching her in some of the debates she appears not to be flustered by people talking over her and she appears to be a strong women who doesn’t let people push her around.

    Go Andrea!

  3. Andrea Leadsom is not “honest”. In fact she’s just the same deceitful type as any other politician one might care to name and she is nowhere near Theresa May’s level of experience in Government.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I am the exact opposite of a fan of Theresa May, but I suspect she will win against Michael Gove (who may fall on his sword soon anyway just like Boris) because she supported Remain which was in turn supported by the majority of Tory MPs and party members. Yes, the fight between Brexit and Remain is still very much ON within the Tory Party even after we the public had our consultative say.

    Leadsom’s original career was in banking management – which doesn’t necessarily  make her a bad person – and to be fair she did call into question some of the quasi-criminal financial practices which led to the 2008 crash. However, in Government, she avoided inheritance tax by giving shares to her children in a buy-to-let company owned by her and her husband for which she also arranged offshore banking arrangements in direct conflict with Osborne’s crackdown on tax avoidance. This makes her a dodgy dealer.

    As a treasury minister she paid her office staff via a holding company in the Virgin Islands owned by her Guernsey based brother in law and pocketed £70,000 worth of donations from him. “Honest”? I wouldn’t trust her with my proverbial barge pole!

  4. I did make the point she was honest “or more than most other politicians” so was not saying she had a totally clean record! The point she avoided paying tax by giving shares to her children is something I do not see an issue with and think anyone or everyone that was in a position to do this would or has done it!

    Teresa May has more experience but I wouldn’t trust her with your proverbial barge pole or even mine, people can disagree but I feel she was a leaver and sided with remain… so she was looking to forward her career than follow her beliefs and that rules her out for me. Leadsom is a smart women and the experiance she lacks over May is something she will grasp fairly soon over the very big challenge the position will demand, she appears to be liked by many in her party and trusted by the leave side and would be trusted more than many others.


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