The ardent Brexiteer and prominent Leave campaigner is a former leadership rival of the Prime Minister. Mrs May will use the Environment Secretary in a last-ditch bid to sway Leave MPs. It comes as Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the current deal was the “best option available”.
The Prime Minister’s decision to hand over the key role to Mr Gove has surprised MPs.
No 10 said it was not conventional for debates to close with the opening speaker.
It had been widely presumed the Prime Minister would take the opportunity to launch a final appeal to MPs to back her blueprint.
However Downing Street apparently believes Mr Gove, with his Leave-backing credentials, is a better fit for the momentous occasion.
But the move leaves Mrs May open to further criticism if the strategy backfires.
The Prime Minister insisted on Tuesday her deal was still the best way forward, telling Parliament: “I promise you that this is the very best deal for the British people.
“I ask you to back it in the best interests of our constituents and our country.”
But there have been angry words from all sides of the political spectrum over the Withdrawal Deal and Political Declaration.
Centrist and Tory rising star Johnny Mercer – who notably branded Mrs May’s Brexit approach a “sh*t show” – accused the Government of “clear deception of red lines crossed without acknowledgement” and of “arrogance”.
Sam Gyimah, who quit the Cabinet last week, said the Government had left itself “an incredibly weak hand for trade talks”.
The former universities minister added: “It’s time to level with the British public that Brexit is far from over.
“We have to be clear-eyed that the EU will only work in its interests, not ours.”
Chris Bryant, the former Labour Europe minister, was also damming in his verdict of the deal, calling it a Santa Claus-style “wish list”.
The MP for Rhondda said: “That’s a great wish list, and it’s all in the Political Declaration, but it’s no more deliverable than a letter to Santa Claus. It really isn’t.
“It’s all very well having a wish list, but how on earth could a serious MP vote for nothing more than a wish list?”
Published at Thu, 06 Dec 2018 02:42:00 +0000