One of the many puzzling tweets I’ve seen on the subject of Michael Gove’s candidacy for the Conservative party leadership is this one:
— Allie Wytchwood (@wytchwooda) July 1, 2016
Clearly this person has never seen an episode of Game of Thrones. I can think of lots of character flaws which might put me off voting for someone who hoped to be my next Prime Minister, but “ruthless determination to get things done” and “willingness to put national interest before friendship” certainly aren’t among them.
This was the essence of Michael Gove’s “no more Mr Nice Guy” pitch today at the conference to announce his leadership.
To paraphrase: “Yes, some of you may think I’m a bastard. But you’re going to need a bastard to deliver on the thing you all just voted for in the EU referendum.”
Gove was characteristically polite about his opponent – and the current, Daily-Mail-backed frontrunner – Theresa May. But I think we all understand his underlying message: if you want to chuck away almost everything we achieved last week in the Brexit vote then hand over the reins to May.
The problem with May is obvious. She campaigned (half-heartedly) for Remain and is now the rallying point for all those Cameroon Conservative MPs who, often out of pure careerism, voted for Remain. Quite possibly including the truly sinister and Machiavellian Chancellor George Osborne. They were humiliated utterly in the Referendum battle. Now what they’ll all be desperate to do is save face and win the war, essentially by sabotaging the Brexit decision.
Already, May has reneged on her commitment to pull Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights – a move calculated to win over the wet slippery lawyer types in the party like Dominic Grieve. But if British law doesn’t have primacy over European law, it rather defeats one of the main objects of voting Leave.
There is every possibility that May, as the compromise candidate, may end up embroiling Britain in some kind of Associate Membership of the EU or surrender to the “freedom of movement” imperative in order to placate all those people who’ve bought into the mean that the “single market” is so important that any sacrifice is justified in order to retain “access” to it.
To hear the way this weasel word “access” is bandied about, you would imagine that the alternative would be a cease of all trade. This isn’t true. It would mean, worst case scenario, a top tariff rate of 4 per cent – something we’ve already offset via the (highly useful) drop in sterling which has made our exports much more competitive.
This is precisely the sort of detail a man like Gove understands because he doesn’t buy into the Establishment consensus which is essentially that of the Europhile elite.
Watch, over the next few days, as that Establishment elite and its various mouthpieces such as the BBC, try to destroy him not on the quality of his ideas or his political track record but more nebulous things like his “image”.
Even Conservative journals like the Spectator are at it.
Here is its political correspondent Isabel Hardman talking about The Big Question That Michael Gove Still Has To Answer
The big question, apparently, is whether the public can trust him after what he did to poor old Boris Johnson.
I appreciate the concern for Boris. I’ve always been fond of him and it must have been truly awful to have the rug pulled from under his Prime Ministerial ambitions in so brutal and unexpected a way.
But if my suspicions are right – that the reason Gove did it was because he had become convinced that Boris was not committed to Brexit and ending “freedom of movement” – then, not unlike that unfortunate Turkish ancestor of his, Boris had to be defenestrated.
What Gove has clearly demonstrated is that he is prepared to put the public interest before personal considerations.
The question as to whether the public can trust him to do the right thing is therefore utterly spurious.
Gove has the nerve to do what needs to be done. The question is, do Conservatives have the nerve to carry through with the thing over 17 million people voted for last week?