He can’t load a dishwasher and took seven attempts to pass his driving test… but there’s one job my husband would do well: SARAH VINE reveals why she thinks Michael Gove is the right man to be Prime Minister
For the past couple of weeks there has been a bit of an elephant on this page. I’ve been doing my best to dance around it — but, given recent events, I just don’t think I can ignore it any more. My husband, Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, is running for PM.
It has not been an easy decision to take. Well, not for me, at any rate. I think for Michael it’s a bit of a no-brainer. As a leader of the campaign to leave the EU, he is determined to deliver the result of the referendum — not least because it’s what he believes in, but also because he has invested so much in it, personally and politically.
Of course, he did his best under Theresa May — a woman for whom I know he has huge respect and admiration, despite everything. While others threw in the towel, he stayed on, not only to try to secure a deal, but also because of his work at Environment.
My husband, Michael Gove (pictured), the Environment Secretary, is running for Prime Minister
As the size of the Green vote this weekend proves, the future of the planet is something people are deeply engaged in.
Or, as our elder child put it: ‘Saving Brexit is one thing, Dad; saving the planet is much more important in the long run.’ And she’s right, of course. No point securing a good deal if we’re all drowning in plastic.
For the past couple of weeks there has been a bit of an elephant on this page. I’ve been doing my best to dance around it — but, given recent events, I just don’t think I can ignore it any more. Pictured: Michael Gove out for a run today
Now that Mrs May has finally been forced to concede, Michael has put his name forward. He has always been passionate about politics, and in particular taking Britain out of the EU.
As he said to me the other day, watching Parliament drive Brexit into a cul-de-sac over the past few years has been excruciating.
‘You just can’t help thinking: ‘Aargh, if only I could just get my hands on the steering wheel.’
When I pointed out to him that a motoring analogy was perhaps not the best one for a man who took seven — yes, seven — attempts to pass his driving test, he laughed and admitted that perhaps I had a point. But I know what he means.
Seeing the result of a democratic vote turned into little short of a civil war has driven me mad with frustration and, at times, fury. Indeed, there have been times when I have been ready to give up and give in.
I voted Leave not for the reasons cited by those who like to characterise us 17.4 million Leavers as bigots and xenophobes, but because, as a former expat who grew up in Europe and whose immediate family still lives there, I do not view Brussels through rose-tinted spectacles.
Yet I’ve now even entertained the thought of revoking Article 50 altogether. Anything, frankly, to put an end to the division and anger pulling this country apart.
It has not been an easy decision to take. Well, not for me, at any rate. I think for Michael (pictured after voting in the EU referendum near his west London home in 2016) it’s a bit of a no-brainer
Michael, I know, has never felt that way for one single second. His Euroscepticism is as deeply ingrained in him as his love of the United Kingdom. And while he is wary of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, he is equally determined that Britain will, one way or another, leave the EU.
Like all husbands, Michael has his flaws: a fondness for corduroy, an inability to go anywhere (including dinner) without a book, a passion for Wagnerian opera, an obsession with Strictly, an entirely irrational dislike of houseplants and, of course, the usual pathological male inability to operate a dishwasher.
But one thing he cannot be accused of in respect of Brexit is giving up. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that, for him, delivering the result of the 2016 referendum has become more important than almost anything else — and I’ll be backing him to the hilt. Every spouse wants to support their partner in life’s endeavours.
As a leader of the campaign to leave the EU, Michael (pictured with wife Sarah Vine at the Tory Winter Ball in The Natural History Museum, London, in Feb 2018) is determined to deliver the result of the referendum — not least because it’s what he believes in, but also because he has invested so much in it, personally and politically
But there is also family life to think about; not least the small matter of staying sane.
And, as I discovered last time Michael stuck his head above the parapet, during the 2016 referendum, things can get awful mad in politics.
Quite aside from our own issues, I cannot recall a time in my life when Westminster has felt this feverish and toxic; when public anger has been so fierce and so acutely felt, or, for that matter, so justifiable. As we have seen from this recent European election — an election which never should have taken place — people feel deeply let down.
Now that Mrs May has finally been forced to concede, Michael has put his name forward
For Michael, this is not just about succeeding where others have failed: it’s about honouring the result of the referendum.
And to do that he has to persuade the party and the people that not only is he the right man to unite the Conservatives and deliver Brexit, he is also someone who can, in the long term, restore faith in politics. For me, the challenge is very different but just as personal. I have to find a way of protecting the family, and particularly our two children, from the inevitable repercussions. From a world that may well see them not as human beings but as potential and legitimate targets in the greatest of ideological battles.
That, I think, will be hard, given the strength of feeling in this feral social media age of ours. We are all protective when it comes to our own, and I am no exception.
Like any parent, Michael also feels these concerns acutely. But I also know that part of him believes that in politics there are some things that transcend even the deeply personal; that the overall good of the country requires certain sacrifices.
And he’s right, of course. This is not just about one person, one family: it is about the country as a whole. About a Britain that has been torn apart by the question of Brexit. And about the urgent need to resolve the rift in the most civilised way possible.
Of course, Michael (left and right with wife Sarah Vine) did his best under Theresa May — a woman for whom I know he has huge respect and admiration, despite everything. While others threw in the towel, he stayed on, not only to try to secure a deal, but also because of his work at Environment
Treating those with whom you profoundly disagree with respect and consideration is not a mark of weakness, it’s basic civility — something that has been in woefully short supply of late.
One of the reasons Mrs May’s task was so impossible was because of the sheer tribal vitriol perpetrated by those in Parliament and beyond who wanted to either undermine the result of the referendum altogether or interpret it so aggressively as to only accept a no-deal exit.
Uncoupling Britain from the rules and restrictions of the EU was never going to be straightforward. It requires patience, diligence, conviction and, yes, compromise. All qualities that Michael has in spades. Especially, as you can imagine, patience, being married to yours truly.
As the size of the Green vote this weekend proves, the future of the planet is something people are deeply engaged in. Or, as our elder child put it: ‘Saving Brexit is one thing, Dad; saving the planet is much more important in the long run.’ And she’s right, of course. No point securing a good deal if we’re all drowning in plastic
If he wins, he faces a Herculean task, not only in delivering Brexit but also in restoring the battered fortunes of the Conservative Party and keeping that creepy communist Corbyn out of No 10.
Can he do it? I hope so. But this much I do know: if the Party and the country puts their trust in him, he will do everything within his power to see this one through.
I, meanwhile, shall be battening down the hatches.
Good move, Posh – the only Classy Spice
The much-anticipated Spice Girls reunion tour has been marred by poor sound quality, leading some fans to ask for their money back.
I would have thought that not being able to hear four fortysomethings dressed as schoolgirls warble their way tunelessly through a back-catalogue of tacky hits would have been a positive.
For once, Posh Spice — who’s not taking part — proves she’s the one with real class.
For once, Posh Spice (pictured) — who’s not taking part in the Spice Girls tour — proves she’s the one with real class
Alexa! Connect me to God
Apparently, thousands of Alexa users are reconnecting with God through a new ‘skill’ (similar to an app) launched by the Church of England. Time, perhaps, to update the Lord’s Prayer?
Apparently, thousands of Alexa users are reconnecting with God through a new ‘skill’ (similar to an app) launched by the Church of England
who art online,
Googled be thy name;
thy Amazon delivery come;
thy shopping be done;
on eBay as it is on Etsy.
Give us this day our free delivery.
And forgive us our Facebook,
as we forgive those who Twitter against us.
And lead us not to Netflix;
but deliver us from the BBC Sounds app.
For thine is the Instagram,
the Snapchat and the WhatsApp,
for ever and ever
Trust an American (Rob Lowe) to say what none of us Brits had the courage to say: it’s rather sad the future heir has lost his hair.
As Lowe points out: ‘Honestly, one of the great traumatic experiences of my life was watching Prince William lose his hair. He’s going to be the f*****g king of England!’
He’s right of course — as he is right that there are now plenty of options for slowing down or even stopping hair loss altogether.
But part of me rather admires Prince William for being so un-vain as to let nature simply take its course.
I wonder whether the Duchess of Sussex will be quite so laissez faire with William’s little brother. Something tells me maybe not.
As the new Love Island line-up is revealed, I am struck by the story of 26-year-old Amy Hart, an air stewardess from West Sussex.
For her 21st birthday, Amy received a pair of £5,000 surgically enhanced breasts from her grandparents.
I’m sure they’re very nice and all, but the story does slightly make me long for the days when your 21st birthday present from Granny was a nice carriage clock or a pair of earrings.
Progress? I’m not so sure.
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