Michael Gove was accused of being like a First World War general sending his men over the top with no idea what was on the other side as he faced a public grilling on the EU referendum.
The Brexit campaigner's failure to set out an economic plan for Britain pulling out of the 28-member bloc was likened by a voter to military top brass ordering out the troops without any idea of the casualty rate to come.
But in a more flattering assessment, one member of the audience at the Sky News EU: In Or Out? referendum set piece said the Justice Secretary was the "poster boy" for the Tory backbenchers and pressed him on his leadership ambitions.
Asked if he was considering a future bid for No 10, he replied: "I'm absolutely not. The one thing I can tell you is that there are lots of talented people who could be Prime Minister after David Cameron but count me out."
Told he was a Tory poster boy, he said: "The one thing I would recommend is whatever posters you put up on your wall, do not put one up of me.
"I'm not the sort of person that you want to have when you wake up on your bedroom wall."
Andrew Carnegie, who runs a small business making parts for intensive care units, asked Mr Gove to set out a detailed economic plan for the UK's future outside of the EU.
He said: "I think the answer is there is no economic plan. It appears to me that you are asking people to vote for a divorce and sort out the financial settlement afterwards and that makes no sense to me.
"With all due respect Mr Gove, it appears to me it's almost like a First World War general. You are waving the flag, you are saying 'over the top men' but you have no idea what's on the frontline or what the casualty rate will be in the conflicts to come."
Mr Gove replied: "It's certainly an arresting image, the First World War image. What I'm putting my faith in is the ingenuity, creativity and the strength of the British people.
"Many of those who are arguing we should remain are trying to frighten you by saying that it would be impossible for Britain to succeed. They are saying that Britain is too small, too poor and we are all too stupid to be able to succeed on the outside.
"I comprehensively reject that."