11/01/2018 09:25 GMT | Updated 11/01/2018 10:29 GMT

Michael Gove Refuses To Rule Out Standing For Conservative Party Leadership

'Ay Govey, you haven’t done enough.'

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Michael Gove has pointedly refused to rule out a second attempt to become Conservative Party leader, as he referred to himself in the third person as “Govey”.

The environment secretary said Theresa May was a “brilliant” prime minister. “I hope she leads us into the next general election and I’m convinced if she does that we will have an increased majority,” he told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme on Thursday morning.

But asked twice if he would stand for a second time, Gove said of himself: “He’s the environment secretary committed making sure today’s 25-year environment plan commands support form all those who we need to make our country clearer and greener.”

He added when pressed: “The whole point is I can see these questions coming a mile off.”

Gove unsuccessfully stood to succeed David Cameron as Tory leader in 2016 but lost out to May having knifed Boris Johnson.

Conservative Home this morning reported Gove believes new education secretary Damian Hinds or defence secretary Gavin Williamson are likely to be the next prime minister.

Gove told Today: “They, like so many other members of the Conservative government and Conservative Party are incredibly impressive young politicians.

“The two members of the cabinet, Damian and Gavin, I mentioned, are two people who come form the sorts of background that give them experience of life and also they are highly effective people.”

Michael Gove calls himself ‘Govey’

Gove used his appearance on the BBC to promote the government’s plan to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste within 25 years.

Supermarkets will be urged to introduce “plastic-free” aisles, where shoppers can pick up products which are not packaged in plastic.

The 5p charge for plastic carrier bags will be extended to all retailers in England, closing the Government’s loophole excluding smaller shops, while taxes and charges on single-use items such as takeaway containers will be considered.

Asked whether the announcement was more talk than action, Gove told Today presenter Nick Robinson: “No your challenge and your premise is: ‘Ay Govey, you haven’t done enough’.”

Robinson shotback: “I would never dream of calling you Govey.”

In a speech to launch the long-awaited environment plan, the prime minister will say the problem of plastic waste, much of which ends up as damaging pollution in the seas, is “one of the great environmental scourges of our time”.

“We look back in horror at some of the damage done to our environment in the past and wonder how anyone could have thought that, for example, dumping toxic chemicals, untreated, into rivers was ever the right thing to do,” she is expected to say.