Michael Gove Blasts Liz Truss For 'Taking A Holiday From Reality'

·3 min read
Michael Gove and Liz Truss after leaving Downing Street. (Photo: Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images)
Michael Gove and Liz Truss after leaving Downing Street. (Photo: Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images)

Michael Gove and Liz Truss after leaving Downing Street. (Photo: Victoria Jones - PA Images via Getty Images)

Michael Gove has accused Liz Truss of taking a “holiday from reality” with her plans to cut taxes during the cost-of-living crisis, and warned the Tory leadership frontrunner is putting “the stock options of FTSE 100 executives” before the nation’s poorest people.

The former cabinet minister launched the outspoken attack as he endorsed Rishi Sunak to be the next Conservative leader.

Gove also said he does not expect to return to frontbench politics as he backed the underdog in the race to replace Boris Johnson in No 10.

Writing in the Times, he said: “I do not expect to be in government again. But it was the privilege of my life to spend 11 years in the cabinet under three prime ministers. I know what the job requires. And Rishi has it.”

The political heavyweight attacked Truss’s plan to immediately reverse the national insurance hike and her previous dismissal of increasing direct support to the most vulnerable when she said she opposed “handouts”.

On the economy, Gove said: “And here I am deeply concerned that the framing of the leadership debate by many has been a holiday from reality. The answer to the cost-of-living crisis cannot be simply to reject further ‘handouts’ and cut tax.

“Proposed cuts to national insurance would favour the wealthy, and changes to corporation tax apply to big businesses, not small entrepreneurs.

“I cannot see how safeguarding the stock options of FTSE 100 executives should ever take precedence over supporting the poorest in our society, but at a time of want it cannot be the right priority.”

Gove, who backed Kemi Badenoch earlier in the contest, said he does not believe Truss’s “prospectus is the right answer for the world we face”.

“It does not address the fundamental problems of potential neglected, productivity suppressed and the vulnerable suffering the most,” he wrote.

At the party hustings in Manchester on Friday night, Truss reiterated her plan to lift the ban on new grammar schools, saying she wants everyone “right across the country” to have the choice to enlist their children at them.

But Gove highlighted the grammar schools pledge, when there is “neither the money to build them nor the evidence they advance social mobility”, as among her plans that should not be among the Conservatives’ priorities.

He launched a defence of Sunak, saying the tax hikes he ushered in as chancellor were “a consequence of Covid, not Rishi’s inner preferences”.

And Gove hit out at those who have recently backed Truss, saying the “SW1 consensus” predicts she is the most likely candidate to win.

“A bandwagon is clattering down Whitehall with eager new adherents clambering aboard,” Gove said.

The Sunak campaign welcomed his backing, with a spokeswoman saying: “Delighted to have the support of a party and cabinet veteran who has intellectual heft and shown the radical reforming zeal in every job he has had, that we now so desperately need.”

Johnson sacked Gove as levelling-up secretary after Gove told him to quit as prime minister ahead of his ultimate resignation.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.