New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Politics
  2. Brexit
23 May 2018updated 24 Jun 2021 12:22pm

Will playing the Brexit blame game boost Gove’s chances at taking the Tory leadership?

A leaked cabinet letter paints the Environment Secretary in a very positive light. Presumably because he wrote it.

By Stephen Bush

Who’s to blame for the government’s 15th Brexit defeat in the House of Lords? According to Michael Gove, it’s all Philip Hammond’s fault.

The Telegraph’s Steve Swinford has got hold of a leaked letter from Gove to the cabinet, in which he outlines how the Treasury’s insistence on watering down the environmental protections he and his department wanted spooked the Lords and ignored Defra’s advice.

Gove is right to say that the government’s decision to push forward with weaker environmental protections after Brexit against his and Defra’s advice meant the measure was dead on arrival in the Lords, but that the leaked letter reflects so well on him means that, inevitably, pretty much everyone assumes he was the source of the leak.

Gove has had two successes at Defra: the first in being one of only two ministers to have actually done anything of note since the loss of the Conservative parliamentary majority. But the second, and equally important from a Conservative party perspective, is that he has, thus far, avoided any prolonged fights with other departments, a recurring feature of his tenure at the Department for Education (which of course contributed to his demotion by David Cameron and his sacking by Theresa May).

One reason why Gove’s chances of reaching the leadership or getting a big job after May leaves the scene are not as good as his record at Defra ought to make them is that he is not as popular among Conservative MPs as he is in the Conservative press. If this letter is a sign of things to come, his May-era renaissance could prove to be just as fleeting as his May-era sacking.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Content from our partners
An innovative approach to regional equity
ADHD in the criminal justice system: a case for change – with Takeda
The power of place in tackling climate change