Gove backs Sunak and says Truss is “taking a holiday from reality” | Michael Gove

Michael Gove has thrown his support behind Rishi Sunak in the Conservative leadership contest, warning that Liz Truss’ refusal to offer more support over rising energy bills and focusing only on tax cuts marked a “vacation from reality”.

In a sometimes hard-hitting article in the Times, Gove said he did not expect to be appointed minister again and that many expected Truss to win, but he believed Sunak “makes the right case”.

Gove argued that millions of people and a large number of businesses could be financially crippled by high energy costs, and wrote that it was important that the new government had a coherent economic plan.

“And here I am deeply concerned that the framing of the leadership debate by many has been a vacation from reality,” he said.

“The answer to the cost of living crisis cannot simply be to reject further ‘handouts’ and cut taxes,” he wrote, a reference to Truss’s insistence that she would cut National Insurance and resist most forms of direct assistance.

“Proposed cuts to national insurance will favor the wealthy, and changes to corporation tax apply to large companies, not small entrepreneurs. I cannot see how safeguarding the share options of FTSE 100 executives should ever take precedence over supporting the poorest in our society, but in a time of need that cannot be the right priority.”

Gove added: “On the other hand, I think Rishi makes the right arguments.”

The endorsement of the former Communities Secretary, a Conservative stalwart who spent over a decade in the Cabinet under David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson, will be a blow to Truss, although it is unlikely to revive Sunak’s campaign.

Gove had originally backed Kemi Badenoch, who he worked with in the communities department, but was knocked out when MPs reduced the field of challengers to the final two.

Saying Truss, who was a junior minister alongside him in the education department, is “tenacious, brave and has a huge appetite for political detail”, Gove said she had also been “admirably clear, consistent and principled in the case she has put forward”. during the leadership race.

He continued: “But I don’t think her prospect is the right answer for the world we face. It does not address the fundamental issues of potential neglected, productivity suppressed and the most vulnerable suffering.”

By backing Sunak, Gove is less likely to win a place in Truss’s cabinet, despite his experience and his record as a reliable minister.

“I do not expect to be in government again,” he wrote. “But it was the privilege of my life to spend 11 years in the Cabinet under three Prime Ministers. I know what the job requires. And Rishi has it.”

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