Jul. 1st, 2016

tigerfort: (Default)
Just a quick post nailing together some thoughts:

My working hypothesis, given the evidence from his own statements and his wife's leaked email, is that Gove genuinely stepped into the leadership campaign to stop Johnson, but also that he genuinely doesn't want to be PM. Specifically, he's entered the leadership contest because his presence gives the 1922 committee two candidates (Gove and May) that they can convincingly claim are better candidates than Johnson. That means that Johnson never makes it to the last-two-only election by members (which he might plausibly win) instead being chucked out "with regret" by a group of parliamentary colleagues who are known to loath him. (This calculation is also why Johnson folded immediately. He can't win, and defeated candidates don't get a second chance. Whether he thinks he'll get another opportunity later, or is accepting defeat I don't want to guess.)

Why does this matter to Gove? Well, it's possible that he's genuinely noticed that Johnson would be a shockingly bad PM. But I think Gove has primarily backstabbed Johnson on behalf of someone else: a certain media baron who (according to Sarah Vine) does not regard Johnson as reliably on-side. With Johnson out of the way, the final Tory leader is guaranteed to be someone Murdoch approves of, and who will ensure Murdoch gets what he wants (in the name of "markets", probably).

On the basis of this, I predict that, assuming we wind up with Gove and May as the final two, he will then announce that he's dropping out (in exchange for one of the "great offices of state"). Everything neat and tidy and controlled, with no Johnson and no need for a members' vote. (If they reckon May is a shoe-in, Gove might stay in for the appearance of democracy, but I'm not sure whether they value the appearance of democracy or unity higher.) If one of the others makes it to the final two (unlikely, IMO), then whichever of Gove or May is the official candidate stays in, though I think Gove is the more likely of the two to be knocked out anyway.

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