Appointing Michael Gove will not save Theresa May

16 Jun 2017

Theresa May is fighting for her political life. She finds herself in an impossible situation with a hung parliament and a DUP deal, which is not only unpopular, but leaves her government unworkable. Every decision the Prime Minister now makes will be under immense scrutiny, with Tory backbenchers, signalling they will work with Labour MPs to defeat her on a number of controversial issues, including the big issue of Brexit. So, what can May do?


Her first political move has actually been masterful. Bringing Gove back into the cabinet despite their mutual dislike of each other displays a level of pragmatism that has been notably missing during her premiership. Michael Gove, although being completely unsuited to the role of Environment Secretary, buys May time. Boris Johnson is the front runner to replace the current prime minister, so bringing Gove into the fold provides a counter force in the cabinet to keep the Foreign Secretary at bay for now.


It also gives the impression to the Brexit forces in the Conservative Party that she is not backtracking on her position. However, the deal with the DUP suggests to soft Brexit Tory MPs that the Prime Minister may be willing to switch her position. Thus, speculation has bought May much needed thinking time.


Unfortunately for the Prime Minister, this level of pragmatism is too little too late. The deal with the DUP will have to finish at some point, and with the arithmetic still making every day governing incredibly difficult, it is extremely likely another election will be called.


With the excellent campaign Labour just fought and Corbyn’s MPs now rallying behind him, the Conservatives will not want a failing PM who is even losing the support of her Scottish Party to fight the next election. Indeed, polling already suggests Labour could easily win the next election outright and will be pushing for another election as soon as possible. With every U-turn May will no doubt have to make Boris Johnson and others ready to step in.


The Conservative Party is possibly the most effective political Party in history when it comes to fighting elections. This is down to their organisational discipline and ruthless intolerance of weakness. By appointing Michael Gove to the Cabinet, May has bought herself time. However, with Labour banging on the door and the Boris Johnson possibly being ready to replace her, it is likely that the time she bought is simply a postponed political death sentence.




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