FULL NAME: Michael Gove
BORN: 26 August 1967, Edinburgh
AGE: 48
EDUCATION: Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen. Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. 2-1 degree in English.
STATUS: Married to Sarah Vine, 2 children
EXPERIENCE: Secretary of State for Education 2010-14, Chief Whip 2014-15, Lord Chancellor 2015-
OTHER EXPERIENCE: Aberdeen Press & Journal 1989-96, The Times 1996-2005
MOST LIKELY TO SAY: “I will never stand for the party leadership.”
LEAST LIKELY TO SAY:“I will never stand for the party leadership.
FAMOUS QUOTES: “You wouldn’t tolerate an underperforming surgeon in an operating theatre, or a underperforming midwife at your child’s birth. Why is it that we tolerate underperforming teachers in the classroom?” “It’s often the case that successful people invite criticism.” “I remember my mum explaining to me what adoption meant when I was still at primary school. ‘Son,’ she said to me, ‘you didn’t grow under my heart, you grew in it’.”
STRENGTHS: Politeness, calmness, ideological certainty, conviction, radicalness
WEAKNESSES: Seen as a backstabber, Neocon views on foreign policy, geekiness
MAIN ADVISERS: Dominic Cummings, Henry Cook, Henry Newman
MAIN ALLIES: Nicholas Boles, Dominic Raab, Ed Vaizey


Experience: 7.7
Negotiating Skills: 7.3
Star Quality: 7.3
Likeability: 6.6
Ability to take the fight to Labour: 8.0
Economic Competence: 6.8
Intellectual Capacity: 8.2
Ability to Unite the Country: 6.4
Ability to Unite the Party: 6.7
Integrity: 8.5
Courage: 9.3
Leadership: 7.4
National Appeal: 6.0
International Experience: 5.5

Before Boris dropped out of the contest Michael Gove has the second best overall rating. He beats all the other declared candidates in the following categories: Ability to take the fight to Labour, Intellectual capacity, Integrity, Courage & Leadership skills. However, these scores were all given before the Boris defenestration.



In one act of political ruthlessness Michael Gove transformed his reputation from the politest, nicest person in British politics, to Ed Miliband on steroid. The Conservative Party doesn’t forgive treachery very easily, and certainly not very quickly, so if Michael Gove overcomes his act of regicide on Boris Johnson and goes on to win the leadership contest, it will be not only a massive surprise, but one of the greatest comebacks in a generation.

Michael Gove has consistently said he doesn’t have the qualities to be leader. I have always disagreed with him. He may not have the charisma of Nigel Farage, but he knows his own mind and has clear convictions which he is able to articulate very well. He has shown political bravery and courage at the Department of Education and Ministry of Justice and is a reformer, with a huge degree of success. He has also shown himself willing to take political risks.

Had Michael Gove announced his leadership campaign on his own terms and gone his own way the day after the referendum, I have little doubt he would be vying to be the main candidate to beat Boris Johnson. The way events have turned out, he is going to find it a massive challenge to get into the final two – and even if he does, Theresa May looks almost unassailable now. But in these turbulent times, no one should discount anything.

Read my other profiles

Theresa May
Andrea Leadsom
Stephen Crabb
Liam Fox