David Davis and Michel Barnier begin Brexit talks – Politics live – The Guardian (blog)
This morning Michael Gove, the new environment secretary (and leaving Vote Leave campaigner) was on soon after 8.10. He was talking about Brexit, but he also used his interview to give a ringing endorsement to Theresa May. Asked if she would be around to deliver the Brexit plan, he replied: “Yes.” Then, asked if he was sure she would still be in power when Brexit happened, he said:
Yes, I am. I think there’s support across the Conservative party for Theresa. Also support for the position she outlined both before, during and after the election.
Normally that would be it from the cabinet. But this morning, less than 10 minutes later, Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, whose own bid for the Tory leadership when Gove quit as his campaign manager last summer, was on the blower too offering his thoughts on Brexit and the future of May. He said he was just as convinced as Gove was that May would survive.
My strong feeling is that the last thing the electorate wants is more elections, or more political shenanigans of one kind or another. There is a huge task to get on with Brexit. We’ve got to do it well, we can do it in a positive way, I think we can build something absolutely brilliant out of this, a new deep, special partnership with our European friends, and a great free trade deal.
All very odd, as Today’s Nick Robinson (and others) have pointed out.
Not long ago it was very hard to get ministers on air. Now Boris & Gove on @BBCr4today a day after Hammond & Leadsome on TV. Wonder why? 🙂
So, what’s up? Well, let’s have a look at yesterday’s Sunday papers.
As I explain in a Guardian article today, talk of an imminent leadership challenge to May seems premature. But manoeuvring for position, in the expectation of a vacancy opening up at some point, is obviously happening and today, in the Telegraph and the Times respectively, both David Davis and Philip Hammond are being touted as possible successors.
Gove is not seen as a future leadership candidate, but, following his return to the cabinet, he is entirely dependent on May’s patronage and so his decision to talk up her chances of surviving is understandable. Johnson’s motives are probably different; he has been harbouring ambitions to be prime minister since he was a schoolboy, but he knows the Conservative party takes a dim view of treachery, which may be why he is so keen to engage in loyalty-signalling.
Gove and Johnson both spoke about Brexit, but what they had to say on that subject was slightly less interesting than their competitive May-endorsing. I will post their comments soon.
Here is the agenda for the day. (All times are UK time.)
10am: David Davis, the Brexit secretary, and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, formally launch the Brexit negotiations in Brussels.
11am: Number 10 lobby briefing.
12pm: Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, hosts Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 phone-in. He is standing in for Vine for the week.
2pm: Theresa May holds a press conference after talks in Downing Street with the new Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.
5.30pm: Davis and Barnier hold a press conference.
As usual, I will be covering breaking political news as it happens, as well as bringing you the best reaction, comment and analysis from the web. I plan to post a summary at lunchtime and another after the Davis/Barnier press conference.
You can read all today’s Guardian politics stories here.
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