A senior Conservative Party MP and former minister on Saturday issued a ringing endorsement of Rishi Sunak to succeed Boris Johnson as the Tory leader and the British Prime Minister, saying the former Chancellor has what the top job requires.
Michael Gove, who was dramatically sacked as Levelling Up Secretary by Johnson after he called for him to quit amid a mounting Cabinet rebellion against the outgoing Prime Minister last month, branded current frontrunner Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’ tax-cutting plans to tackle the cost-of-living crisis facing the country as a “holiday from reality”.
He said Rishi Sunak was the one in the leadership contest who was making the right arguments and telling the voters the truth.
“I know what the job requires. And Rishi has it,” writes Michael Gove in ‘The Times’ newspaper.
“Even more important is what a future government will adopt as its central economic plan. And here I am deeply concerned that the framing of the leadership debate by many has been a holiday from reality. The answer to the cost-of-living cannot be simply to reject further ‘handouts’ and cut tax,” said the veteran Tory politician.
“In contrast, I believe Rishi makes the right arguments… And, even more importantly, on the central economic questions he has told the truth. We cannot cut general taxation further until we get inflation under control, and control spending and reduce borrowing. We cannot reduce spending quickly on the scale required to make the tax cuts we want when support for the poorest is so necessary,” he said.
Michael Gove missed out in his own leadership bids first in 2016, when he surprised many by announcing his own candidacy instead of backing Johnson at the time as was expected, and then again in 2019 when Johnson emerged as the unanimous choice to succeed Theresa May.
He has since served in senior Cabinet posts under Prime Ministers David Cameron, May and then Johnson. This week, Michael Gove alluded to taking a backseat from frontline politics as he said his backing for Rishi Sunak comes from the heart.
“I make my case from my heart too. I do not expect to be in government again. But it was the privilege of my life to spend 11 years in the Cabinet under three Prime Ministers,” he said.
Rishi Sunak welcomed Michael Gove’s endorsement, tweeting: “Brilliant news to have Michael Gove on team #Ready4Rishi.” “Delighted to have the support of a party and Cabinet veteran who has intellectual heft and shown the radical reforming zeal in every job he has had, that we now so desperately need,” a campaign spokesperson added.
Meanwhile, both candidates continue on a busy campaign trail as they try to win over votes of Tory members who are in the process of casting their postal and online ballots in the leadership election set to close on September 2.
The new Tory leader and Prime Minister will be declared on September 5, with the winner taking charge at 10 Downing Street immediately.