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UK Politics

The most effective minister of our time?

Gove: happy to upset applecarts. David Cliff/NurPhoto/Getty

It was “bliss” to read Michael Gove’s searing critique of Liz Truss this weekend, says Clare Foges in The Times. Her economic plans, he wrote, are a “holiday from reality” that will safeguard the stock options of FTSE 100 executives rather than support the poorest in society. As the former levelling up secretary acknowledged, he’ll have no role in a Truss government – and that’s a big loss for the Conservatives and the country as a whole. In my decade or so working at the heart of the Tory party, he was by far the most impressive politician I encountered. “Need gags for a speech? Policy ideas? A tricky parliamentary issue ironed out? Send for Gove!” Crucially, he had a sense of urgency about getting things done “regardless of applecarts upset”. He doesn’t see politics as a “parlour game”; he genuinely cares. That there’ll be no place in government for such a formidable talent bodes ill for what’s to come.

Gove had his faults, says Fraser Nelson in The Sunday Telegraph. In 2016, he became Boris Johnson’s campaign manager for his leadership bid, then knifed him on the very day of the launch to run himself. His drift, under Johnson, towards “illiberal conservatism” meant that “draconian” lockdown policies weren’t adequately challenged. Nevertheless, when I walk past the free school that recently opened in my neighbourhood, I think of “the difference one man can make in politics”. If not for Gove’s time as education secretary, there would be no free schools and thousands fewer working-class pupils at university. “Without him, Brexit would probably not have happened.” He leaves frontline politics as “one of the most consequential ministers of modern times”.