Michael Gove: Nine times the Tory leadership candidate insisted he wasn't capable of being Prime Minister

Mr Gove has spent much of his political career insisting the lacks the competence and capability to be Prime Minister

Maya Oppenheim
Thursday 30 June 2016 17:06 BST
Mr Gove has spent much of his political career insisting that he is the not the man for the job of Prime Minister
Mr Gove has spent much of his political career insisting that he is the not the man for the job of Prime Minister (Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Michael Gove stunned his fellow Conservative party members this afternoon by announcing his decision to stand in the party leadership race, putting his name forward for the leadership less than three hours before nominations closed.

The Justice Secretary was widely expected to throw his weight behind fellow Leave campaigner Boris Johnson but told MPs he had "reluctantly” come to the conclusion that the former Mayor of London “cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead”.

However, Mr Gove’s last minute arrival to the contest doesn’t quite fit with his previous stance on leadership and today he admitted his bid for power was something of a bolt from the blue.

In fact, Mr Gove has spent much of his political career insisting that he is the not the man for the job of Prime Minister. He has frequently touted his political colleagues as far better “equipped” for the role than him and claimed he lacked the competence and capability to lead the country.

Here is a short history of all of those times Mr Gove has completely and utterly contradicted himself, in chronological order.

18 June

“In order to be prime minister of this country, you need to be an exceptional person... I don’t think I have got that exceptional level of ability required for the job.” Mr Gove told The Telegraph.

“I have seen how someone with immense talent, more talent than I have – Gordon Brown – when he became Prime Minister it was a grueling process. And I think that, you know, that’s not for me.”

6 May

“No I’m not. There…I don’t want to do it and there are people who are far better equipped than me to do it,” Mr Gove told The Telegraph.

“And there are people who have advocated Leave and people who have advocated Remain who are far better than me to do it.”

Tim Farron attacks Michael Gove

3 June

“I can tell you I'm absolutely not. The one thing I can tell you is there are lots of talented people who could be prime minister after David Cameron but count me out,” he told Sky News.


”I don’t have what it takes,“ he told the Financial Times.


“I am an inconceivable choice as party leader. I don’t want to do it; I wouldn’t do it; it wouldn’t matter how many people asked me to do it - I don’t think there would be very many,” he told The Sunday Times.


“The one thing I do know having seen David Cameron up close is it takes extraordinary reserves of patience of judgement of character to lead this country and he has it and I don't and I think it's important to recognise in life you’ve reached an appropriate point,” he said on Question Time.


“There are so many different ways in which he [a prime ministerial candidate] can deny it. And everyone tries to look at those denials and say was he leaving open the door, or was she trying to suggest she might wriggle out of it at some point… I don’t know what I can do in a way but if anyone wants me to sign a piece of parchment in my own blood saying I don’t want to be prime minister, then I’m perfectly happy to do that,” he told Sky News.


“There are lots of other folk, including in the Cabinet who could easily be prime minister, I am not one of them. I could not be prime minister, I am not equipped to be prime minister, I don’t want to be prime minister,” he told World at One.


“I'm constitutionally incapable of it. There's a special extra quality you need that is indefinable, and I know I don't have it. There's an equanimity, an impermeability and a courage that you need. There are some things in life you know it's better not to try,” he told Standpoint magazine.

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