Michael Gove should not win the Tory leadership. For the sake of ensuring Brexit is a success he cannot succeed Cameron. If he does, irrespective of whatever qualities he has (and I am a fan) and his own aiding and abetting of the Leave triumph, it’ll be at the price of progressing - even the very survival of Brexit.
In short, if he does win the leadership and subsequently become PM, he’ll be hoisted by his own petard for the rubric and rhetoric he advocated during the referendum campaign. Because for some of the voters he inspired, by association (or otherwise), are more akin to a rabble, and they will devour him if he does not keep to his “promises” (however filleted) for they are glued to him like tar on a searingly hot day.
Indeed, given his own stated preference for high immigration he will set himself on a collision course with the very forces he has helped stir and unleash — the kind that could ultimately generate a dangerous popular revolt. Farage would find his power electrified as a consequence.
To swerve this potentiality, and in something that will not automatically be a popular view given Leave did win the day (or the era…) it is my view that the course of Brexit should be led and overseen by someone unaffiliated with the trickery of Vote Leave. Thereby able to apply their own version of how this should work free from the anchoring of electoral pledges.
Though naturally, of course, many Leavers should be prominent in the collective body designing and executing our extraction from the EU — only a Remainer can be the safest lightning rod for handling the expected backlash when various expectancies don’t transpire with ample haste or ever at all.
A further profit to picking a Remainer is when negotiations are conducted with the EU, the person leading them will be someone the EU knows did not campaign against it. Thus soothing the sting from the personal, emotional point of view of the opposing side. They will look at our new PM and know they wanted to Remain.
Faced with Gove however, one can envisage a large dose of enmity and hostility that is desiring of an escape valve, with the prospect that this rancour results, inadvertently, in decisions which go against our interests. The appetite to hurt Gove could bring unintended hazards that filter down onto the rest of us.
It’s important then, this reality is appreciated, for simple emotional intelligence underlines that relations with the EU going forward must be cordial and respectful. Negotiations will be intricate, guzzling much energy and a lot of time. To this end, Gove is more hindrance then facilitator.
Therefore this requires somebody with a trusted record of delivery and who can unify Liberal Leavers and Remainers. Someone who is serious and capable, with corresponding views on immigration that concord with the majority of the public’s and on what the Brexit mandate, is, in part, built upon. Although simultaneously not someone who is beyond pragmatism and calm, sensible decision-making. And who won’t overplay to an audience of the nativist, reactionary kind all too keen to proclaim “Leave means Leave!”
This person is Theresa May.
Sorry Michael, that you’ll never inhabit No. 10. But your prize in itself is in helping to craft and lead your nation to a new democratic revolution. A much needed one. You have our deepest and most abiding thanks for your contribution but we’ll take it from here.
Brexit is simply too important, too cardinal, too precious an opportunity to risk it.
Oh my god. I suddenly sound like a Remainer…
Post-script: This excellent analysis by Roland Smith further summarises my view — https://medium.com/@WhiteWednesday/why-im-backing-theresa-may-b575c2be6f3#.tzw6psbi9