What do James Murdoch's resignations mean?

News International chairman resigns from the boards of the Sun and the Times.

The Evening Standard has the news that James Murdoch has resigned from the boards of the parent companies of the Sun and the Times. He will, however, remain chairman of News International, the ultimate owner of the titles.

The move will inevitably be seen through the prism of the phone-hacking scandal but it has more to do with Murdoch's relocation to New York ("This is one company, not two," Rupert told James, "and it is run out of New York.") and the fact he'll be spending less time in London. True, he has resigned as director of News Group Newspapers (the owner of the Sun and the defunct News of the World), the company embroiled in legal action over phone-hacking, but as News International chairman the board will continue to report to him. He has hardly cut himself loose from the papers.

But as the Standard notes, "his decision means no member of the Murdoch family now sits on the boards of the flagship UK papers". James, who does not share his father's romantic attachment to print, will be well aware of the symbolic significance.

Update: Harriet Harman has responded for Labour, urging Murdoch to "make clear why he has stepped down in this way." She added: "This does not lessen in any way the need for him to answer questions or take responsibility for what happened on his watch. Furthermore, the concerns about whether he is a fit and proper person to run BSkyB remain."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Michael Gove definitely didn't betray anyone, says Michael Gove

What's a disagreement among friends?

Michael Gove is certainly not a traitor and he thinks Theresa May is absolutely the best leader of the Conservative party.

That's according to the cast out Brexiteer, who told the BBC's World At One life on the back benches has given him the opportunity to reflect on his mistakes. 

He described Boris Johnson, his one-time Leave ally before he decided to run against him for leader, as "phenomenally talented". 

Asked whether he had betrayed Johnson with his surprise leadership bid, Gove protested: "I wouldn't say I stabbed him in the back."

Instead, "while I intially thought Boris was the right person to be Prime Minister", he later came to the conclusion "he wasn't the right person to be Prime Minister at that point".

As for campaigning against the then-PM David Cameron, he declared: "I absolutely reject the idea of betrayal." Instead, it was a "disagreement" among friends: "Disagreement among friends is always painful."

Gove, who up to July had been a government minister since 2010, also found time to praise the person in charge of hiring government ministers, Theresa May. 

He said: "With the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to spend some time on the backbenches reflecting on some of the mistakes I've made and some of the judgements I've made, I actually think that Theresa is the right leader at the right time. 

"I think that someone who took the position she did during the referendum is very well placed both to unite the party and lead these negotiations effectively."

Gove, who told The Times he was shocked when Cameron resigned after the Brexit vote, had backed Johnson for leader.

However, at the last minute he announced his candidacy, and caused an infuriated Johnson to pull his own campaign. Gove received just 14 per cent of the vote in the final contest, compared to 60.5 per cent for May. 


Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.