The extraordinary political assassination of the front-runner Boris Johnson by his campaign chief Michael Gove, is by any standard, the most stunning political betrayal in modern British history. The Justice Secretary Micheal Gove has spoken over the years that he would never run for the leadership of the Conservative Party. My prediction that Boris Johnson would succeed in defeating Theresa May in the Conservative Party leadership election rested on the assumption that Michael Gove would align himself with the Johnson campaign.
Now that Michael Gove has unexpectedly become a candidate in his own right, the race for the leadership has been blown open. Boris Johnson’s withdrawal has inevitably made void my prediction of a Johnson victory and is a lesson that there are no certainties in politics. The Home Secretary Theresa May is a formidable and savvy political operator and is in a strong position to win the race. May’s biggest weakness is her timid support for the Remain camp which will do her little favour among the pro-Brexit grassroot activists.
Michael Gove and the rising star Andrea Leadsom are in a battle for second place in advance of the final vote of the MP’s tomorrow. Whoever succeeds in rallying the pro-Brexit forces to their flag will be in a strong position as the race branches out to the 150,000 strong Tory membership. The only aspect of this race which I will state with any certainty is that Theresa May is not guaranteed to win amongst the membership who overwhelmingly backed the Leave cause.