After the EU referendum, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were such a dream team that the pair looked destined to take the top two jobs in government. However, some political back-stabbing on Gove’s part soon put an end to that friendship and, as history shows, paved the way for Theresa May to become Prime Minister.
This week, the Windrush row has reminded the Conservatives the hard way of the problems with her appointment. As Fraser details in his Spectator cover piece, there’s growing concern among Conservative Brexiteers that the problem with having a Remainer in No. 10 is that they ‘misread’ the referendum result and see it as a ‘battle of ‘open’ vs ‘closed’ — seeking to control immigration is not the same thing as being anti-immigrant.
Mr S understands that Cabinet ministers, too, have lost patience with the Prime Minister’s hardline immigration stance and think now is the time to rebel and put pressure on No. 10 to scrap its arbitrary targets – including removing international students from the net immigration figures. On that point, both Johnson and Gove seem rather keen to press the pros to a liberal immigration system today. Speaking on the Today programme this morning, Gove insisted that Britain has ‘the most liberal attitude towards migration of any European country. And that follows the Brexit vote’:
‘Something very striking was reported by the European Union, actually, a little earlier this year, which is that of all the countries in the EU, Britain is the country with the warmest attitude to migration from outside the EU. We’re the most immigration-friendly country in the EU.’
Meanwhile BoJo has been doing his bit – telling today’s Telegraph that the Government should make the ‘liberal’ case for immigration:
‘That was why it was right to take back control. It’s not about migration, it’s about control. It’s about who calls the shots. I’m a proud descendant not just of Turks but God knows what. We have prospered and flourished by being open.
‘It is one of the myths of this thing. There are lots of people who voted leave who are very liberal on migration, who shared my point of view, but see the democratic point of view. It’s about who’s running your country.’
Nothing like a common enemy to bring old foes together…