Brexit : Michael Gove just turned British politics into an episode of House of Cards

July 1, 2016 6:30 am

From left: Kevin Spacey as House of Cards villain Francis Underwood and Tory leader hopeful . Photos / Netflix / AP

He’s quiet, bookish, and widely accused of back-stabbing the
front-runner in the race to become the next British prime minister.
Michael Gove is suddenly the talk of the town.
Shocking political
pundits in – who, by now, really ought to be immune from
shocking – Gove on Thursday said he didn’t think that former London
mayor Boris Johnson could provide the leadership that the Conservative
Party needed.
As of yesterday – a lifetime ago in Britain’s wild
political ride – Gove was expected to throw his support behind Johnson, a
fellow-in-arms in the successful campaign for Britain to leave the
. Gove, however, had other plans – despite repeated
statements that he never wanted the keys to 10 Downing Street.
First
came Gove’s bombshell that he wanted to be prime minister after all.
Then an ambushed and deflated Johnson announced Thursday he was dropping
out of the race to replace Prime Minister David Cameron, who is
stepping down after his pro-E.U.

side came up short in last week’s referendum.
The comparisons to Frank Underwood – the fictional schemer in chief on “House of Cards” – came thick and fast.

Britain’s justice secretary is a controversial
figure, admired by some, loathed by others. Gove – or “Gover,” as
Johnson calls him – is considered one of Westminster’s more cerebral
figures. On his nomination papers to run for the leadership of the
Conservative Party, he used roman numerals. While some had
questions over Boris Johnson’s commitment to the cause of , Gove
is seen as a life-long Brexiter and was one of the first people in David
Cameron’s senior leadership team to say he was backing the campaign for
Britain to leave the European Union.
Unlike some parts of the
leave campaign that focused on largely on immigration, Gove’s driving
argument for leaving was one of sovereignty.
“Laws which govern
citizens in this country are decided by politicians from other nations
who we never elected and can’t throw out,” he wrote in the Spectator
magazine.
A former journalist, the 48-year-old Gove entered
in 2005, when be became education secretary. Some viewed him in
that post as a savior, others as a bogeyman, for trying to radically
reform the status quo.
David Laws, a British politician who
worked closely with Gove in the education department, told the BBC: “One
Conservative MP I think described Michael as like a mixture of Jeeves
and Che Guevara,” he told the the BBC.

The power behind the throne? Michael Gove with his wife Sarah Vine on the day of the Brexit vote. Photo / Getty Images
Perhaps he was seen as just too divisive. Cameron, a close
friend of Gove, moved him to the post of chief whip prior to last year’s
general election, a move many thought was a demotion.

“Demotion,
emotion, promotion, locomotion, I don’t know how you would describe
this move, though move it is; all I would say is that it’s a privilege
to serve,” is how Gove described it on the BBC.

The modern Lord and Lady Macbeth: Kevin
Spacey and Robin Wright as husband and wife schemers Francis and Claire
Underwood in the television series House of Cards. Photo / Netflix
He became the justice secretary following the general election last year.
He
is married to Sarah Vine, a columnist for the Daily Mail, who sent an
extraordinary email that was leaked yesterday that quickly earned her
comparisons to the “House of Cards” first lady-slash-Lady MacBeth Claire
Underwood.
In the email, she told her husband not to “concede any ground” in negotiating with Johnson and to “be your stubborn best.”
It appears he listened to her advice.

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