Skip to main content

Tory leadership contest: what it means for FE

The political landscape looks a bit like scrambled eggs after the UK voted to leave the EU. Here's the latest on what's happening among the ministers currently (and formerly) responsible for the FE sector

News article image

The political landscape looks a bit like scrambled eggs after the UK voted to leave the EU. Here's the latest on what's happening among the ministers currently (and formerly) responsible for the FE sector

Britain’s political parties are – in the words of Conservative MP Nigel Evans – "making House of Cards look like Teletubbies". With the tectonic plates of politics slipping all over the place, here’s a look at what we know, and what we don't know, about what the future might hold for the politicians with the fate of the FE sector in their hands.

Boris out

Last night, Boris Johnson was the leading contender to take over from David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party – and prime minister. But this morning former education secretary Michael Gove, erstwhile ally of the ex-mayor of London in the leave campaign, announced his own leadership bid, revealing that he had "come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead". Ouch. Within hours, Johnson had, remarkably, ruled himself out of contention.

"That person cannot be me," @BorisJohnson rules himself out of #Toryleadership race

— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) June 30, 2016

Gove in 

The man who proved during his tenure as education secretary that he could be a greater irritant to teachers than salt to slugs is one of the bookies’ hot favourites to be the leader of the Conservative Party. One rumour doing the rounds, especially after last night's apparently accidental leak of an email from his wife, is that he decided to stand after Johnson snubbed him for a position on his would-be Cabinet. This all comes despite Gove's repeated insistance that he doesn't want to be PM. You've got a funny way of showing it, Michael.

"I'm not equipped" to be PM, "I don't want to be" PM, Michael Gove tells #wato in 2012

— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) June 30, 2016

Morgan pulls out

Meanwhile education secretary Nicky Morgan, much touted as a leadership contender in recent days, is not standing. Indeed she has given her backing to Gove – so much so, in fact, that she signed his nomination paper. The UK, she wrote, needs "someone who can unite the country, who can heal the wounds that the referendum exposed". Because Gove's known for bringing people together, eh teachers?

Javid joins Crabb

In what could be significant news for FE providers, business secretary Sajid Javid and Welsh secretary Stephen Crabb have announced that they will be running together as candidates for chancellor of the exchequer and prime minister, respectively. Crabb and Javid's joint ticket is considered a bit of an outsider, compared to big hitters Theresa May and Gove – not to mention Andrea Leadsom and Liam Fox, who both campaigned to leave the EU. Javid said: "Like me, [Crabb] is someone that has grown up understanding the great opportunities the United Kingdom has to offer all of its citizens." All told, it looks likely that, whatever the outcome, there could soon be a new man (or woman) in charge at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Boles jumps ship

Skills minister Nick Boles will be running Gove's leadership campaign – no surprise, as they co-founded right-leaning thinktank Policy Exchange together. But it's all a bit awkward, given that, just three days ago, he came out strongly in favour of Johnson. "The national interest must come first and [this is] why, in the national interest, we must elect Johnson," he wrote. Safe to say that he's now changed his mind what's in the national interest after all. It's all a bit embarassing.

Why I am backing Boris for Conservative leader and PM

— Nick Boles (@NickBolesMP) 27 June 2016

Hancock backs May

Ex-skills minister Matt Hancock, who used to share a ministerial car with Gove when the two worked at the Department for Education, has made the perhaps surprise decision to bakc Theresa May. Yesterday, there had been rumours that Hancock supported Johnson's candidacy. As with several other MPs, though, it seems that May is now his candidate of choice.

Hayes supports former boss

John Hayes, former minister for FE, skills and lifelong learning, was also leaning towards Johnson's nomination for leader. Hayes had said that he believed the future prime minister should be a member of the leave campaign, and that Bojo "was clearly a leading light". But he, too, is reportedly switching his allegiance to Camp Gove.

Zahawi opts for May

Nadhim Zahawi, the prime minister’s apprenticeship adviser, had come out strongly in favour of Johnson. He announ he would be taking some time to decide who would get his support. It clearly didn't take long - within hours, he annouced he was backing May.

FE SPECIAL OFFER: click here to try out a TES Further Education subscription for just £1 for four weeks.

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES FE News on Twitter, like us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you