‘Send anyone but Michael Gove’: Local Tories ask for visit from senior Conservative – as long as it isn’t the Education Secretary

Leaked papers are latest in series of blows to Mr Gove’s popularity

In a crushing indictment on the Education Secretary’s prospects of being the next leader of the Conservatives, a local Tory association has requested a visit from any senior party figure – as long as it was “not Michael Gove”.

To make matters worse for the minister, the Crawley Conservative association went on to suggest that “Boris would be good” – with London Mayor Boris Johnson one of Mr Gove’s closest competitors hoping to replace David Cameron.

Earlier this month Mr Gove was reportedly “putting it about… that while the brilliant Mr Johnson can reach parts of the electorate other Tories cannot, he is not the right man to succeed Mr Cameron”.

And those comments came after he had criticised the “ridiculous” number of Old Etonians in David Cameron’s inner circle of advisers.

The request from Crawley was featured in minutes from a meeting of the association in December last year, and leaked yesterday to the Evening Standard.

After covering local party finances and the re-selection of sitting MP Henry Smith, the minutes go on to discuss senior Tory figures.

They read: “[A member] requested that top Conservatives visit Crawley — not Michael Gove, or certain others; although it was agreed that Boris would be good.”

The Standard also quoted reports that Mr Gove, speaking at a dinner two weeks ago, said: “Boris is incapable of focusing on serious issues and has no gravitas. He isn’t a team player and plays to the gallery the whole time.

“The whole Boris routine will wear thin with the electorate very quickly if he became PM.”

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