Michael Gove takes another stab at Tory game of thrones

It has been said of Michael Gove that he stabbed David Cameron in the front and Boris Johnson in the back.

The Environment Secretary is yet to live down the torrid events of 2016, which saw him help deliver political death to the Downing Street tenure of Mr Cameron and help strangle at birth the Number 10 aspirations of Mr Johnson.

Three years on, the arch-Leaver remains the hand grenade in the Tory leadership race, capable of exploding in any direction.

His attempt to take Number Ten has been shaken, but not derailed by revelations of cocaine use while a journalist in the 1990s.

But the tabloid tales of “decadent parties” he allegedly hosted in his Chelsea flat have not ended his battle to emerge as the “Stop Boris” candidate in the tussle for the Tory crown.

A keen Camerooner Tory modernist, Mr Gove was a combative and highly controversial education secretary between 2010-2014, before being demoted to the post of chief whip.

Mr Gove then tried to rebrand himself in the role of justice secretary as a liberal progressive, after the surprise Tory victory in the 2015 general election.

Michael Gove (left) and Boris Johnson during the Brexit referendum campaign
Michael Gove (left) and Boris Johnson during the Brexit referendum campaign

When Mr Cameron offered ministers a free say on the Brexit referendum, Mr Gove broke ranks with the PM and helped lead the Leave push.

Teaming up with Mr Johnson, the two Tories were initially dismissed as no-hopers, but had the last laugh when they unexpectedly triumphed in the referendum.

In one of the more Shakespearean moments of a decidedly theatrical race for the Tory leadership that followed the toppling of Mr Cameron in 2016, Mr Gove dramatically quit as campaign manager for Mr Johnson on the morning his former ally was set to declare.

Mr Gove then entered the race after his actions helped force Mr Johnson to quit the contest.

Former prime minister David Cameron
Former prime minister David Cameron

He eventually missed out on the run-off, and Theresa May banished her former Cabinet adversary to the backbenches, before recalling him to the top table as Environment Secretary when Brexit paralysis began to engulf and threaten her administration.

Ever the eye for an easy headline, Mr Gove, who sometimes refers to himself in the third person as “Govey”, has pitched himself as the Tory “Blue Green”, ready to clamp down on plastics and other environmental dangers.

Adopted at four months old, the man initially called Graeme Logan eschewed the family fish business and headed for the bright lights of the London media circuit, via Oxford student politics.

Mr Gove, 51, who is married to noted columnist Sarah Vine, has indicated that his drive to be prime minister is fuelled by a desire to show his parents they were right to take the “risk” of adopting him.

The Cabinet minister insists he has “evolved” since previously saying he was “incapable” of being prime minister.

A big Game Of Thrones fan, Mr Gove survived the third round of the bid for the Tory crown, attracting 51 votes, gives him another stab at being PM.