LONDON (Reuters) – As Prime Minister Theresa May battled to save her draft Brexit deal in the face of resignations from her team and threats of a leadership coup, many believed one man could deal the fatal blow. But he didn’t.
Michael Gove, her environment minister and the most prominent Brexit campaigner in the British cabinet, took two days to weigh up his options. During that time he declined May’s offer to be Brexit minister, because she refused to let him renegotiate the deal.
Future - Deal - May
Yet he decided not to resign, at least for now, apparently concluding that his political future was best served by fighting to amend the deal from within rather than being the one to topple May so publicly.
“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 after returning to his department.
Journalist - Top - Brief - Boss - Lifeline
By opting to stay, the 51-year-old former journalist, described by those who have worked with him as highly intelligent and on top of his brief, handed his boss a lifeline.
“Had he resigned on Friday morning it would have been exceptionally difficult for the prime minister,” said Stewart Jackson, a eurosceptic former Conservative lawmaker who served as an adviser to David Davis, Brexit minister from 2016 to 2018.
Media - Gove - Ministers - Government - May
British media reported that Gove and four other eurosceptic ministers were instead seeking to work from within the government to force May to make changes to the deal.
“He has probably kept this deal afloat,” said one person familiar with Gove’s thinking, who declined to be named. “He doesn’t want to be seen as the knifeman.”
Gove - Demise - Colleagues
Gove has form in bringing about the demise of colleagues.
In 2016 he turned against then prime minister David Cameron,...
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