The ambitious Environment Secretary opened the door to mounting another bid to enter No. 10 yesterday as he refused to deny he was angling for the top job.
He refused to give BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme a direct answer on whether he was positioning himself to run the country, instead insisting his “focus is completely” on his current brief of Environment Secretary.
Mr Gove instead tipped Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and Education Secretary Damian Hinds as possible future Conservative leaders.
He hailed both men as “incredibly impressive young politicians” and “two people who come from the sorts of background that give you experience of life”.
But critics claimed the Environment Secretary had only brought up his Cabinet colleagues’ skills as a ruse to direct attention away from his own ambitiousness.
Mr Gove’s last run at becoming prime minister was steeped in controversy, after he metaphorically knifed former ally Boris Johnson in the back by announcing his own bid for No. 10 at the last minute.
Mr Johnson, now Foreign Secretary, was viewed as a front-runner before the campaign had even begun, and expected Mr Gove’s wholehearted backing with his candidacy.
However he withdrew from the race after finding out his old friend has put himself forward with no warning.
Despite past controversies, the Environment Secretary is gaining a reputation as an effective operator in his new brief, having held the position since June 2017.
He has helmed the Government’s 25-year plan for the environment, which includes measures such as extending the 5p plastic bag charge to all shops, and working with retailers to minimise the use of plastic packaging.
It is not clear whether large sections of his party will be prepared to forgive him for ruling out Mr Johnson from the previous leadership election.