The phoenix has risen, or so the papers have led us to believe.
Comeback kid Michael Gove is allegedly on manoeuvres having characteristically got on with his brief and turned the nation green in the process.
From planting 11 million trees to establishing 500,000 hectares of new wildlife habitat, Gove is pushing an agenda once allegedly instructed to his predecessor, Andrea Leadsom, to be made as ‘boring as possible’ and made eye catching announcements which had been gathering dust in the DEFRA archives.
Since being unexpectedly offered a seat around the Cabinet table by the PM following her ill-fated snap election in June last year, Gove has taken to his brief with great gusto and it shows.
Under Gove – amid a government increasingly occupied by Brexit –DEFRA suddenly seems to be the only Department in Whitehall offering remotely innovative policies, providing an alternative vision for a Government often overwhelmed by Brexit legislation.
But is it any surprise?
Wherever Gove goes, he leaves a legacy. From reforming the syllabus as Education Secretary or demonstrating his compassionate conservatism as Justice Secretary, Gove gets on with the job in hand.
Whilst many Brexiteers are salivating over the prospect of a Rees Mogg – led Conservative Party, complete with a new blue passport, Gove is quietly getting on with the job staying true to the Brexit cause.
From an Aberdeen Council Estate to the frontbench of the House of Commons via Oxford University, Gove was often seen as the antithesis to Cameron’s Etonian set. He brought with him life experience, as well as a liberal set of values, evidently shown during the early days of Policy Exchange with Nick Boles MP. For many, he epitomises what the Conservatives stand for: Aspirational, radical and in pursuit of better life chances for all. Even from the early days of being an MP and Shadow Housing Minister, he saw home ownership as a way of increasing social mobility.
The pragmatic and principled Eurosceptic is a favourite of the Conservative mainstream and has a rare quality that can see him address both the Tory Reform Group as well as The Bow Group – two very different wings of the Conservative Party – without any one batting an eyelid.
It represents a remarkable turn of fortunes since the two months of 2016 that followed Brexit in which Gove was seen as the modern equivalent as Brutes to Boris Johnson’s Julias Caesar. Whilst those few weeks in the aftermath of the Brexit result were turbulent at best, it appears both parties have had time to reflect on this and have since joined together in order to ensure that Brexit is the success that Theresa May assured us it would be nearly two years ago on the steps of Downing Street.
It remains to be seen how palatable Gove can continue to be to all echelons of the Tory party, especially as the Government continue to negotiate a rather wobbly exit from the European Union. However, it certainly makes sense to have an erudite, pragmatic and principled Brexiteer more involved at the negotiating table, leading the way as a green fingered champion of Brexit, rather than seek a leadership bid. This may yet come in the future.