It's Boris v Gove round two as the Brexit big-hitters trade blows over Theresa May's deal
Rumours that Michael Gove and Boris Johnson might be pals again appear to have been greatly exaggerated.
Relations between the pair have been somewhat strained ever since the bespectacled Scot knifed his Vote Leave colleague when the Tory leadership was up for grabs in 2016.
However, there were signs that the pair had finally buried the hatchet (although presumably not the same one Gove buried in Johnson’s back nearly three years ago).
Now, it seems, they are estranged as ever.
With Theresa May facing a do-or-die showdown in the Commons on Tuesday night over her Brexit deal, her Environment Secretary has attempted to ride to her rescue.
Writing in the Daily Mail, he has urged Tory MPs to put aside their concerns about the “compromise” agreement, hold their noses and vote for it. All those niggling concerns about the backstop can be sorted at a later date, he argues.
But Johnson takes the opposite approach. In his Telegraph column, he insists that the deal is still a dud and deserves to be defeated, just like it was in January.
The PM’s very survival is at stake this week, which tees up the tantalising prospect of another Conservative leadership race. It’s an open secret that Gove fancies another crack at it, while Johnson’s ambitions remain undimmed.
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The Tory leadership soap opera has spilled out into the public with MPs taking chunks out of each other on social media.
Even David Cameron has lost his patience with Theresa May's Brexit delays as he reveals pre-exit release date for bombshell memoirs - and it's just days before Conservative conference.
How Labour responds to it's major Brexit split could echo down the ages, writes former Labour spokesman Paul Ovenden