Yorkshire Post comment: Gove’s delicate balancing act

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Theresa May might well have retired for the weekend resigned to the hopelessness of her position. But the Prime Minister will not have lost sight of the fact that it is no more hopeless than that of everyone else around her.

The decision of Michael Gove to remain in post as Environment Secretary and, we must assume, help her try to salvage her Brexit deal and sell it to Parliament, is an unexpected but welcome calm in the storm of the last days and weeks.

It has, crucially, bought her time in heading off a vote of no confidence – an outcome still entirely possible. Whether the time will be enough to see her through the weekend remains to be seen.

Mr Gove’s move is helpful not only for his boss but also for the agricultural community in Yorkshire and beyond for whom, at Defra, he is an effective advocate. He has also proved himself an influential ally of environmentalists in Sheffield as they fight to protect their remaining roadside trees from the council’s rampaging bulldozers.

Mr Gove may well have taken the pragmatic view that however short it may have fallen of the deliverance for which he and the other Tory Brexiteers were hoping, Mrs May’s deal is the only one we are likely to get.

The EU has given away more than it wished, and should the Prime Minister not remain in office for long enough to see it through, there will be no new rabbits for her successor to pull from his or her hat.

And that is the nub of the problem: Brexit was an eventuality which no-one in Westminster had expected and for which, to this day, no-one has submitted any alternative other than a second referendum – which, in all probability, would endorse the original vote.

Given that, and the self-serving and destructive politics of others in his party, Mr Gove deserves credit for putting construc­tive­ness over division.