Theresa May manages to keep hold of Michael but she can’t find George

Written by David Singleton on 16 November 2018 in Diary

Watch: The PM used her Downing Street press conference to keep calling different reporters George.

Finally, Theresa May has had a sliver of good news. Having refused to be Brexit secretary, Michael Gove is at least planning to stick around in the cabinet.

“I think it’s absolutely vital that we focus on getting the right deal in the future and making sure that in the areas that matter so much to the British people, we can get a good outcome,” he said on Friday morning.

The Spectator’s James Forsyth had more on Gove’s thinking. According to Forsyth, the leading Brexiteer couldn’t see what would be achieved by flouncing out of the cabinet:

“It might doom this deal, but there would be nothing to put in its place. He felt it would be a nihilistic act, not a constructive one. With fewer and fewer Brexiteers around the Cabinet table, government policy might drift even further with more softening to try and gain support from opposition parties.”

He added: “Gove’s decision to stay doesn’t mean that he has no breaking point. But for the moment, he thinks it is better to stay inside government and try and influence policy that way.”

Gove's stance will annoy those hardcore Brexiteers who would prefer the environment secretary to thow all of his toys out of the pram. More pragmatic leavers might want to consider Lyndon B Johnson’s 1971 take on J. Edgar Hoover staying in place as director of the FBI:

“It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”

News of Gove’s non-move comes after the prime minister held a defiant Downing Street press conference where she compared herself to her cricketing hero Geoffrey Boycott who she said had "kept at the crease and carried on". Just three years after the former cricketer was apparently blocked from a knighthood because of his conviction for beating a former girlfriend.

May also struggled to find FT political editor George Parker among the press pack, despite having developed a worrying habit of calling everybody George.










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