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LONDON — One of the many lessons of British politics over the last decade is not to write off Michael Gove.
The longest-surviving member of the British Cabinet has been variously promoted and demoted by David Cameron, sacked from Cabinet altogether by Theresa May before later being invited back, and now occupies a key position in Boris Johnson’s top team despite sabotaging his boss’ first run for Tory leadership immediately after the 2016 Brexit referendum.
Gove’s turbulent career now includes more years of top-level governing experience than any member of Johnson’s Cabinet, including the prime minister himself and many of the civil servants running Whitehall departments. Along the way he has proved his ability to deliver tangible — albeit sometimes divisive — policy changes at the departments for education, justice and environment.
It was this experience, officials say, that persuaded Johnson he needed him in his team and he was duly handed oversight of the Cabinet Office, responsible for coordinating the delivery of the prime minister’s policy agenda.
Despite his reputation as Westminster’s great political plotter and maneuverer, his current position of strength was not achieved by the art of a Machiavel, officials said. More of Mr. Fixit.
“One of the reasons why Boris Johnson has looked to Michael Gove to lead that is because he clearly trusts him to get it done and to make changes happen” — Alex Thomas, director at the Institute for Government think tank