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Michael Gove: 'Candidate for change' insists he's a reluctant runner in race

By Staff Reporter

Published 02/07/2016

Home Secretary Theresa May sporting a colourful hat as she relaxed yesterday at Henley Royal Regatta
Home Secretary Theresa May sporting a colourful hat as she relaxed yesterday at Henley Royal Regatta

Michael Gove declared himself "the candidate for change" as he set out his pitch to take the keys to No.10 with a speech protesting that he had never wanted to become Prime Minister.

Just 24 hours after his manoeuvring forced frontrunner Boris Johnson to pull out of the Conservative leadership contest, the Justice Secretary insisted he had done "almost everything not to be a candidate" but standing for the leadership was "the right thing to do".

However, Mr Gove is now facing calls to pull out of the race for Downing Street.

His prospects of winning the contest are rated lower than his fellow Brexit campaigner Andrea Leadsom, who is now second only to Theresa May with the bookies.

Mr Johnson dismissed as "rubbish" claims that he had put his own interests first and said he wished Mr Gove "every possible success".

In a detailed speech that set out his leadership vision, Mr Gove said he stood by all of the promises which were made by Vote Leave during the referendum contest.

In a clear attempt to draw contrasts with rival Mrs May, who on Thursday portrayed herself as an unshowy politician who would "get the job done", the Cabinet minister said the challenges facing Britain required "not just a cool head, but a heart burning with the desire for change... not business as usual, but a bold vision".

"I will ensure we honour the instructions the British people have given us," Mr Gove said.

"I argued for specific changes in the referendum campaign, I believe in them, I will deliver them.

"The promise to leave the European Union, end the supremacy of EU law and take back control of our democracy.

"With my leadership, it will be delivered.

"The promise to take back control of our borders. I will end free movement, introduce an Australian-style points-based system for immigration, and bring numbers down.

"With my leadership, it will be delivered.

"The promise to use the money we currently send to Brussels and invest it instead on the priorities of the British people - principally in the NHS - and to cut VAT on domestic fuel.

"With my leadership, it will be delivered."

Despite relentless controversy over Vote Leave's claims - which were branded "misleading" by the UK's statistics watchdog - that Britain handed £350m a week to Brussels, much of which could be spent on the NHS, Mr Gove said he stood by the pledge to put £100m a week more into the NHS.

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