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Gove to Make Case for UK Premiership After Boris Betrayal

Gove to Make Case for UK Premiership After Boris Betrayal
(AP)

Friday, 01 July 2016 07:43 AM

Justice Secretary Michael Gove is set to make his case to be Britain’s next prime minister on Friday after breaking with the incumbent and then betraying the one-time front-runner.

In a maneuver that smacked of a plot line from the "House of Cards" series, Gove torpedoed the leadership ambitions of fellow Brexiteer Boris Johnson on Thursday, four months after opposing Prime Minister David Cameron by joining the "Leave" camp in the European Union referendum campaign.

Now his sights are set on Home Secretary Theresa May, the early favorite, and three other candidates to head the Conservative Party and the country.

Hours after his announcement, Gove used a BBC interview to skewer Johnson for his inability to build a team and portray himself as the conviction politician the country needs to negotiate a Brexit.

"This isn't about me," he said. "It’s about making sure that our country can make a success through the challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead."

Gove is scheduled to deliver a speech outlining his vision at 11 a.m. in London.

With the Tories rudderless and the opposition Labour Party mired in a split that threatens to topple its own leader, Jeremy Corbyn, the Bank of England signaled it could cut interest rates within months -- to steady an economy about to feel the full force of the Brexit vote.

The pound slid 0.9 percent against the dollar after the Bank of England’s statement, completing its worst quarterly fall since 2008. It fell further Friday and was down 0.2 percent at $1.3288 at 8:40 a.m. in London.

With financial markets on edge, the winner of the Conservative contest will have to make some of the most difficult decisions to face any prime minister since World War II, as he or she negotiates a new deal with the bloc and oversees an economy at risk of slipping into recession. May has already signaled a shift in fiscal policy if she wins, saying she would abandon Chancellor George Osborne’s pledge to reach a budget surplus by 2020.

Alongside Gove and May, the other candidates are Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom and former Defense Secretary Liam Fox. Tory lawmakers will whittle the shortlist down to two, in a series of votes due to start on Tuesday. Then, party members nationwide -- who are seen as more Euro-skeptic than the lawmakers -- will make the final choice.

Bookmakers installed May as the favorite. The home secretary, who backed the 'Remain'side in the referendum, gave an assured campaign launch on Thursday, portraying herself as the candidate who can unite the party and provide "strong, proven leadership to steer us through this period of economic uncertainty."

She already has the influential Daily Mail on her side. "It Must be Theresa," the newspaper declared on Friday’s front page. May also has the support of 77 Tory lawmakers so far, according to a tally on the Conservative Home website. Crabb has 22, Leadsom 14, Gove 13 and Fox nine. The party has 330 members of Parliament.

"We are in incredibly difficult times and I think we need somebody with a steady hand on the tiller, who’s got proven leadership credentials," Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock said, declaring his support for May on the BBC’s late evening "Newsnight" program. "Theresa is the person right now to provide that stability."

The home secretary kept a low profile during the referendum campaign, and moved swiftly on Thursday to allay any doubts among "Leave" campaigners that she might seek to row back on the country’s verdict.

"Brexit means Brexit," she told reporters. "There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU. No attempts to rejoin it through the back door and no second referendum."

Next came Johnson’s announcement that he was stepping down -- his plans wrecked by Gove, who’d been running Johnson’s campaign until he decided to stand himself.

'Brexit for Grown-Ups'

Fox likened yesterday’s maneuverings to student politics, calling the Gove-Johnson saga a "distraction" in a BBC Radio interview on Friday.

"We seem to have been permanently distracted by what can only be described as the politics of the Oxford Union in recent days," Fox said. "We need Brexit for grown-ups. We need to be talking about the big issues. We need to be talking about our aims, our trading positions, what our security relationships would be, also what domestic changes we will have to make."

He set out his stall, saying the U.K. should look to the EU’s individual member states rather than the European Commission in its trade negotiations and that it would be possible to have access to the bloc’s single market without having to accept the free movement of people. He proposed setting up a trade department within the Foreign Office.

Three Hours That Turned Boris Johnson From Winner to Also-Ran

Johnson, Britain’s most flamboyant mainstream politician, provided a major boost to Brexiteers when he decided to back their cause and become its highest-profile campaigner. He’d been a proven election winner for the Tories, twice claiming the mayorship of a city that predominantly votes Labour. But some senior Tories saw personal ambition behind his referendum role.

Gove said he had turned on Johnson after recognizing that "while he has great talents and great abilities, he was not equipped to provide the team captaincy and the leadership that the party and the country require at this point."

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke called on Gove to pull out of the race, telling BBC Radio on Friday: "You should have the trust so far as possible of your colleagues."

Meanwhile, the opposition Labour Party is embroiled in a crisis of its own, as Corbyn clings to power despite an overwhelming vote of no-confidence from his own lawmakers, and a mass defection from his leadership team. Labour’s parliamentarians are now seeking a single unity candidate to take him on in a leadership challenge, with his former business spokeswoman Angela Eagle touted to lead the charge. She was non-committal in a BBC interview, urging instead that Corbyn should go of his own accord.

"He's been asked to stand down and at the moment we want him to consider his position and do what is right in the interests of the party," Eagle said. "So, over to you, Jeremy."

 

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Justice Secretary Michael Gove is set to make his case to be Britain's next prime minister on Friday after breaking with the incumbent and then betraying the one-time front-runner.In a maneuver that smacked of a plot line from the "House of Cards" series, Gove...
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