After what was presumably a “long night of the soul” for Environment Secretary Michael Gove, the Tory cabinet minister has decided to split the difference in terms of decisions that would disappoint and delight his boss, Prime Minister Theresa May. He won’t take the Brexit Secretary post vacated on Thursday by Dominic Raab. But – for now, at least – the “tortured” Gove won’t be resigning, according to the London Times.
Gove is NOT resigning – source close to him says ‘Michael is staying at Defra. He thinks it is important to continue working with Cabinet colleagues to ensure the best outcome for the country’
— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) November 16, 2018
Though some sources said he could still quit by the end of the weekend.
Michael Gove is ‘tortured’? Finally some news about him I like hearing! pic.twitter.com/VXa0AoG2E9
— Tiernan Douieb (@TiernanDouieb) November 16, 2018
But that was about all of the good news for May, who is facing another brutal day of trying to rally fractured Tories behind what she firmly insists is the ‘best deal possible.’ Shortly after former culture secretary John Whittingdale became the latest Tory to announce he had submitted a letter of no-confidence in May, the embattled prime minister did the next logical thing: She sat for a 30-minute radio interview where she continued to try and sell her deal and insisted she would carry on as prime minister.
Following the interview, which received mixed reviews and which ended with a question comparing May with Neville Chamberlain, the prime minister was confronted with reports that the 1922 committee (the private committee for the Conservative Party in the House of Commons) had received the requisite 48 letters to call for a ‘no confidence’ vote in May. According to media reports, the vote could happen in the coming days (though, in a repeat of the drama from Thursday, those reports were swiftly refuted).
Circling back to Gove, looked chipper this morning as he confronted the horde of reporters lurking outside his London home.
The scrutiny was understandably intense, with CNN offering this trenchant analysis of the ‘breakfast indicator’.
It appears that Michael Gove is carrying a paper bag from Patisserie Valerie, a British cafe chain that’s in deep financial trouble. Is this a subtle message? Its chief executive resigned on Thursday. His name? (Paul) May.
And as one reporter noted: “stranger things have happened.”
Gove not resigning. Well stranger things have happened
— Robert Peston (@Peston) November 16, 2018
And although May has insisted that a “People’s Vote” on the deal (which would function as effectively a second Brexit referendum) won’t happen, Labour MPs insist that such a vote is growing increasingly likely (as their chances of seizing power grow). Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, has said a fresh referendum on Brexit is now “more likely,” according to the Independent.
With Gove sticking around, reporters are turning their attention to another restive senior member of May’s government: International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt. Approached about her resignation plans this morning, Mordaunt insisted: “I’ve got nothing to say.” Though, according to the latest round of reports, the UK press doesn’t expect any more resignations on Friday.
With UK markets still recovering from the brutality of Wednesday and especially Thursday, Bloomberg has published a handy guide that functioned more like a warning: All of those analysts who projected a drop in the pound below $1.25 if May’s deal is ultimately defeated might be conservative. They even invoked the memory of the October 2016 ‘flash crash’.
But if lawmakers reject the deal, the currency vigilantes may re-emerge en masse over the low-liquidity Christmas period, ratcheting up pressure on a divided Parliament. Remember the 6% flash crash in October 2016 when the pound was pummeled in just one minute in thin Asian trading?
But it wouldn’t even take an outright rejection of the deal to reawaken the ‘currency vigilantes’. Indeed, as anybody who has been watching the tape probably could guess, they are already with us.