Nick Boles, MP for Grantham and Stamford, has had a turbulent fortnight, first backing Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader, then signing up as Michael Gove’s campaign manager. Here, he explains what happened and why he took the decision to resign from his ministerial role.
“Three weeks ago, Britain was a committed member of the European Union, David Cameron was Prime Minister and I was minister for skills in his government. Now we are on our way out of the EU, Theresa May is Prime Minister and both David Cameron and I are backbenchers. Politics is never predictable.
I thought the UK would be better off staying in the EU and campaigned hard for that result. But once it became clear that the British people had voted to leave and David Cameron announced his resignation, I concluded that Brexit could best be delivered by a Prime Minister who had campaigned for it. So on the day after the referendum I tried to persuade Michael Gove to run for leader. He refused, declaring that he thought Boris Johnson would make the better candidate. I had hated being on the opposite sides of the referendum from Michael - he is my closest friend and political soulmate - so I decided to support him in whatever he decided and joined him on Boris’ team.
For three days we tried very hard to make it work. Boris has enormous gifts and we really hoped he could combine them with the discipline and focus required to be Prime Minister. But it was not to be. When Michael and I both realised that neither of us would be able to vote for Boris to become leader and Prime Minister, we knew we could not in good conscience urge our parliamentary colleagues to do the same. Finally, reluctantly, Michael agreed that he should stand for leader himself.
Of course I wish we had never ended up in the position. Of course I wish I had been able to persuade Michael Gove to stand for leader from the start. But what’s done is done. Once Theresa May’s victory in the leadership contest was confirmed, I knew that I needed to accept the consequences of my actions and return, voluntarily, to the backbenches. There I will support our new Prime Minister in her noble ambition to make Britain a country that works for everyone, not just a privileged few. And do my best to represent the constituents I was elected to serve.”