Michael Gove, a British PM hopeful whose prospects have been scarred by recent revelations about past cocaine use, has apparently tried to win back some points with an innuendo-laden jibe at his rival Boris Johnson.
"Mr. Johnson, whatever you do, don't pull out,” the minister said on Monday as he launched his Tory leadership bid. “I know you have before, and I know you may not believe in your heart that you can do it, but Conservative Party membership deserve a choice, so let’s have a proper race".
"Mr Johnson, whatever you do, don't pull out. I know you have before... but the Conservative party membership deserve a choice"— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) 10 июня 2019 г.
Michael Gove takes aim at his rival, Boris Johnson, as he launches his bid to become Tory leader and PMhttps://t.co/2C1iYnKNHN pic.twitter.com/hh5UE7jPfZ
Johnson famously quit the 2016 Conservative Party leadership contest after his key ally Michael Gove withdrew his support for the fellow Brexiteer and launched his own campaign.
“One thing I will never do as prime minister is use our tax and benefits system to give the already wealthy another tax cut,” Gove pledged in a campaign-launching speech on Monday in an apparent dig at Johnson, who promised an income tax cut for high earners.
He then took a shot at Johnson's apparent lack of media appearances during the leadership race, without calling him out outright.
"That is why at this time we need someone who has been tested in the heat of battle. Someone who is prepared to go under the studio arc lights in order to make the case for Conservatism. Someone who will take on [Labour leader] Jeremy Corbyn at the despatch box, not hide in their bunker."
Gove also aimed a dig at his former Vote Leave colleague for his intention to pull Britain out of the European Union on the deadline of 31 October “deal or no deal”.
Gove warned such a move would be self-defeating as it would trigger a vote of confidence and a general election that would see Jeremy Corbyn become the prime minister “by Christmas”.
“The danger is that if we vote for a potential prime minister who said whatever happens I’m doing to leave to leave on October 31, we will be voting for a prime minister who will not be able to deliver Brexit before there’s a general election,” he said.
Gove’s speech came after ten MPs were confirmed to have enough support to run for the Tory leadership, following Theresa May’s resignation. Apart from Gove and Johnson, they also include Health Secretary Matt Hancock, former Chief Whip Mark Harper, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, former leader of the House Andrea Leadsom , former Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, and International Development Secretary Rory Stewart.
Michael Gove’s leadership prospects have been marred by his recent admission that he had taken cocaine “on several occasions” while a journalist in the 1990s.
Gove has admitted he was "fortunate" to have avoided prison but insisted that “all politicians have lives before politics".
Additionally, the Daily Mail revealed that Gove had hosted a party were cocaine was being used just hours after writing a column condemning the drug.
The revelations have provoked heavy criticism from across the political spectrum, with Sayeeda Warsi, the former Tory co-chairman, calling on him to “step away from the leadership race” after showing “hypocrisy of the highest order”.