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Michael Gove 01-07-16

We will be putting ten sets of questions publicly to each of the main leadership contenders.

  • A fundamental requirement for a Party leader is that he can keep it united: for unless he can, it’s unlikely to achieve anything much.  Until Wednesday evening, you were arguably the most senior unifying figure in the Party, certainly on the Leave side.  Then came your about-turn on Boris Johnson’s candidacy.  Hasn’t it damaged your reputation as a unity-builder – at least for the course of this leadership election?
  • You have previously ruled out standing emphatically – and very recently, too.  You are now standing.  Doesn’t this complicate matters further?
  • It’s sometimes claimed that polling suggests that your appeal to voters is less than some other senior Tories.  What evidence is there that you can increase the Party’s electoral reach?
  • In your launch speech, you called for more spending on research and development, and on the NHS, too – at least another £100 million per week by 2020″.  These aim is straight out of the Vote Leave playbook – which is no bad thing in itself, given the yearning among voters for politicians who keep their promises.  But where is a Gove government going to fund the money for all this extra spending, given the need to reduce the structural deficit further – amidst the likelihood of new post-Brexit retrenchements?
  • In the speech, you also said that we need “to build hundreds of thousands of new homes a year, both private and socially-rented – led by someone who will not take no for an answer and who will push for diggers in the ground and homes for all come what may”.  How would a Gove administration achieve this ambition – a noble ideal, but so hard to deliver?  Would it build on the Green Belt?  Go for garden cities?  Impose more houses on local councils? Strengthen compulsory purchase?
  • Your speech didn’t dwell on foreign policy – again, this was no bad thing, since it dealt with domestic policy at length.  But your speeches, actions and writing suggest that a Gove government would run a distinctive foreign policy: strongly pro-Israel, anti-Putin, anti-Iran – and also anti-Saudi.  How do these strong reflexes cohere?  For example, what would a Middle East policy that is openly critical of both Saudi Arabia and Iran look like?  Would you bring back liberal interventionism?
  • If you are one of the two candidates put before Party members, would you make your opponent deputy leader?  Since that person might well be Theresa May, with whom you have enjoyed a tense relationship, the question is especially pressing.
  • Would you appoint George Osborne to your Cabinet and, if so, in what capacity?
  • These are hectic times, and post-Brexit business must command your attention.  But you are standing, strictly speaking, for the Party leadership.  So you will surely want to set out a view on the Party’s future.  What sort of Party Chairman would you appoint?  How do you propose to raise membership, if at all?  Do you want to make Party Conference more accessible to members, and if so how?  See some or all members of the Board directly elected?  What are your plans for candidate selection?

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