Michael Gove Signals He Could Run For The Tory Leadership

But environment secretary quotes a Biblical phrase suggesting he is reluctant to add to Theresa May's woes just yet.

Michael Gove has signalled he could stand for the Tory leadership - just minutes after saying Theresa May could be prime minister “for a while to come yet”.

The environment secretary, who led the Brexit campaign alongside Boris Johnson, refused to rule out running to replace May when she stands down.

Using a Biblical phrase which suggests he is reluctant to add to the PM’s difficulties, Gove told ITV News: “I’m concentrating purely at the moment on this talks process and on getting Brexit over the line, I think sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Put to him that he was not saying “no”, Gove replied: “No it’s not a no.”

It came minutes after he told Sky News he felt May could be prime minister “for a while to come yet” and that she should be given “time, space and dignity to leave in a way that she believes is right”.

When asked if May will still be in post at the Conservative party conference at the end of September, Gove said: “I think Theresa will be prime minister for a while to come yet.

“I think it’s important for us all to acknowledge that she’s very graciously said that she will stand down when the withdrawal agreement is ratified.

“It’s all our priority in politics to make sure that referendum mandate is honoured and then to give Theresa the time, space and dignity to leave in a way that she believes is right.”

May is under enormous pressure to quit following the Tories’ terrible local election results and an expected mauling in European elections on May 23, mainly at the hands of the Brexit Party.

The prime minister is under fire in her own party for failing to deliver Brexit on time, delaying withdrawal until October 31, and for trying to seek a cross party exit deal with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

She will hold showdown talks with the executive of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, which is demanding a timetable for her resignation, later this week.

Under party rules, she cannot be challenged by the party until December because she won a Christmas confidence vote last year.

But the 1922 committee could hold another vote as early as this week on changing the party’s rules to trigger an early leadership contest.

Gove is the latest in a long line of Tories who have signalled they could run, including Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock, Andrea Leadsom and Liz Truss, among others.

Meanwhile, Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, said Britain should be prepared to “decisively” raise the proportion of national income it spends on defence once it has left the EU.

Hunt said a major increase in military spending would demonstrate the UK’s commitment to defending democratic values at a time of growing global uncertainty.

Addressing the Lord Mayor of London’s banquet at the Mansion House, he said the additional funding should be for new capabilities – such as cyber and artificial intelligence – rather than plugging existing gaps.

He warned that it was not sustainable to expect the US to carry on spending 4% of its GDP on defence while other Nato allies spent only 1% to 2%.

“So for these and other reasons I believe it is time for the next Strategic Defence and Security Review to ask whether, over the coming decade, we should decisively increase the proportion of GDP we devote to defence,” he said.


What's Hot