I’ve made no secret of the fact that I wanted Michael Gove to be in the final two in the Conservative leadership race and I’m disappointed that he isn’t.
As a Conservative Party member, I’m willing to vote for Theresa May, but on three conditions. First, she commits to repealing the 1972 European Communities Act. I’m less fussed about whether and when she triggers Article 50 – it was the 1972 European Communities Act that surrendered British sovereignty by making European law superior to British law. Repeal that Act, then pass another Act preserving all the laws that would thereby be rendered invalid and then decide which of those laws we want to keep and which we don’t.
Second, she reverses her stance on guaranteeing EU nationals resident in the UK indefinite leave to remain. Not committing to that immediately when Robert Peston asked her the question last Sunday was a silly mistake and the sooner she does a U-turn, the better. There are something like three million EU nationals currently living in the UK and it’s inhuman to leave them in a state of continuing uncertainty about their status. Her argument – that we shouldn’t offer that guarantee until the 27 other EU member states have reciprocated by guaranteeing that British citizens can indefinitely remain in their countries – is bogus. It would be morally indefensible to use our non-British residents as bargaining chips in any Brexit negotiation and, in any case, trying to deport any of them would contravene the Vienna Convention.
Third, she includes Michael Gove in her Brexit negotiating team – ideally as team leader. Not just because he’s one of the most able politicians on the Conservative front bench, but also because there needs to be at least one prominent Brexiter in that team and Michael is the obvious choice. Most of us who campaigned for Brexit accept that the deal we strike with the EU will have to be some sort of compromise, not least because Leave’s margin of victory was so narrow. But the difficulty with that is it will leave many millions of people who voted for Brexit feeling alienated and betrayed – and they will be easy prey for Ukip. The deal will have to be sold to them, and the best person to do that is Michael.
If she does all three of those things, I’ll be persuaded that Theresa May is serious about Brexit and give her my vote.