DEFRA (Dept for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Secretary Michael Gove has been the subject of increasing social media rumours claiming that he is positioning for a move to topple Prime Minister Theresa May after Parliament resumes following MPs’ summer break – and even that he has the support of media mogul Rupert Murdoch for the bid, as the two have long been mutual admirers:
Gove has called Murdoch a great man:
I’m a great admirer of Rupert Murdoch, he’s a force of nature, a phenomenon, he’s a great man.
Murdoch, for his part, has spoken of Gove’s:
qualities rare in modern politics: integrity, intellectual rigor and, rarest of all, personal courage.
The Tories have already declined to deny that Murdoch’s influence caused Gove’s recent re-appointment to a cabinet position as DEFRA Secretary and it’s possible that this was just an interim move to put the Scot in a position to be able to start manoeuvring for another tilt at the Tory leadership.
In the last week, in spite of Parliament being in recess, Gove has come out with emphatic, populist statements on ‘hot topics’ – that the UK having to accept US chlorine-washed chicken would be a ‘red line‘ in any US-UK trade deal and stepping into the clean-air issue by announcing that the government would ban new diesel or petrol vehicles from 2040.
A source who knew Gove during his time as Education Secretary told the SKWAWKBOX:
He’s definitely preparing the ground. Watch out for more interventions during the summer.
The fact that his electric-only plan is, according to press reports today, already starting to unravel is entirely illustrative of the Tories’ current chaos and incompetence, but in no way undermines the idea that Gove is exploiting his Murdoch-induced revival to plant a flag in readiness for a leadership bid.
The SKWAWKBOX likes to go straight to the heart of the matter where possible, so as his parliamentary office is not taking calls, presumably because of the recess, we emailed Mr Gove and his press office a formal press enquiry with the following questions and a 24-hour deadline of noon today for a response:
There are reports on social media that you are preparing a leadership bid and even rumours that Rupert Murdoch may support it.
Is there any substance to these reports and do you categorically rule out a leadership challenge in future?
The reports mentioned below seem to be strengthening after Michael’s interventions on food imports from the US and on car pollution, so a fast response is requested.
Gove once name-checked the SKWAWKBOX on Newsnight as a source of ‘pluralistic’ news for those who reject the right-wing press, so he’s well aware of us and not able to plead ignorance. So far, no response has been received in spite of reminders and attempts to reach Gove or his Westminster staff by phone continue to hit a brick wall, while his constituency staff say they are unable to provide a response.
Given the manufactured Moggmentum ‘groundswell’ of support for Jacob Rees-Mogg as the next Tory leader, if Gove does proceed with a challenge the British people face a choice of replacing the ‘MayBot’ with what one wag termed a politician in a ‘human suit’, or with the ‘Minister for the 19th century’.
Neither of which is likely to bring the Tories closer to their aim of appearing relevant to newly-engaged younger voters.
The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your support so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.