By Olly Henderson
Well Gove pulled it off. In one fell swoop, he changed from being the one in the background you hated, to the one in the foreground you hated. Time after time, Gove has said he did not wish to be Prime Minister, always happy to be the second in command, the brains behind the operation etc. Yet, all of a sudden, he seems to have had a change of heart, attacking his Brexit partner Boris Johnson, saying he cannot provide the leadership needed. The question is, is this the selfless act of a man acting in what he thinks is the national interest? Or was it his personal ambition all along?
Having led the successful campaign to take Britain out of the EU, Gove and Johnson forced Cameron out from office. Johnson and Gove have never been BFFs, but they seemed to have put their differences aside for the sake of the desperately needed Brexit. However, there were reports that campaigning alongside one another leading up to the referendum has changed this. A Sun journalist reported at the weekend: “Michael has acquired a new respect for Boris in this process.”…
Clearly not. There was a sense during the whole EU referendum campaign that Boris didn’t truly believe in Brexit, while Michael Gove very clearly did. Maybe this is why Gove didn’t feel Boris was up to the job of freeing the UK from the EU.
Having ousted Cameron, Gove sharpened his knife for the back of his next target. The Prime Minister had kicked Gove out of Education Secretary and moved him to the position of chief whip, a position seen as not putting Gove’s talents to best use. Cameron may have given him Justice Secretary to try and keep Gove happy but it wasn’t meant to be.
Finally, Gove got his revenge and probably watched with glee as David Cameron gave his farewell speech, realising that he wanted to be that captain, as the penny finally dropped of what Captain Johnson would do to HMS Britain.
So he has now turned the knife around to the person he’s been keeping a bit closer to home. It was always thought that Gove would be the advocator of Boris, he did indeed agree to be his campaign manager. He was once again the right hand man, second in command, very much in the background of Johnson’s leadership campaign, but very much standing nicely behind Boris. Brexit gave Gove the chance to have a bit more of the spotlight, and he loved it, very much like your parents’ joy when they get a Facebook like and then as a result comment on everything for more likes and before you know it they’ve thrown their hat in the ring to be Prime Minister too. Gove got the taste of power with the campaign followed by winning it and now he wants his next hit and the only high that seems to satisfy his thirst is Number 10.
Alternatively, maybe Gove has been genuine time after time when he’s stated that he is not interested in the job of Prime Minister. Yet now post-Brexit, the chains have been released and he sees this as a monumental chance for politics to change and go in a new direction, something he didn’t see plausible if Johnson was to be the new Prime Minister. Johnson was just a power hungry fool. Johnson wasn’t so much breaking the mould, but more the blonde jelly that could be poured into a mould of David Cameron. Business as usual, with a lot more pissed off people left and right with the idea that Boris Johnson was in charge.
We can see the differences between the two, in the two different speeches given by both on Thursday. Gove’s speech did not give any praise whatsoever to David Cameron, clearly seeing him as the past and nothing else, his candidacy is the candidacy for change, because change is so in right now, who wants the same old boring safety net of the EU? Not us that’s for sure, so why not just change everything we can as quickly as possible, Gove’s the man for the job if you like unpredictable change, like an extremely moist version of Donald Trump. On the other hand, Boris was a lot more supportive of David Cameron’s legacy and thought that this needed to be carried on. And even though he didn’t directly name Michael Gove in his speech, he managed to quote from Julius Caesar a couple of times, giving a little nod to how he truly felt about the situation.
So what is next for Gove? An arduous battle with the media scrutinising him for saying time after time he didn’t want the job which he has just bulldozed two people out the way for him to reach it. Theresa May, Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom attacking him for his toxic Brexit campaign riddled with lies. He doesn’t look dangerous from afar, but this is a man who has just managed to remove the Prime Minister a lot earlier than David Cameron would like. Then, in less than a week, he turned round to his Brexiting ally, said he was crap and that he should be captain instead, something that somehow worked. Unless he actually physically stabs any of the other contestants in the back, it doesn’t seem he can play much dirtier, but maybe after all he’s only thinking the same as the villagers in Hot Fuzz and merely doing it all for the greater good!