Michael Gove boasts he is the candidate "for change" as he dismisses Boris Johnson as incapable of uniting party

James Nickerson
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Gove said he's the man to deliver change. (Source: Getty)

Justice secretary Michael Gove has claimed he is the candidate "for change", after Boris Johnson pulled out of the race yesterday.

Focussing on the need for change, Gove said that the historic moment the country finds itself in requires leadership that can make the best of new opportunities, proven from his time reforming education and justice.

Gove spoke after Boris Johnson - the previous frontrunner - pulled out of the race yesterday. While in Gove's speech he said he campaigned tirelessly for Johnson to win, he said he came to the realisation he was not the candidate to lead the country.

Media accounts of the series of events that led to Gove's declaration are at odds with his own. Speculation is that Gove behaved in a Machiavellian manner, betraying the former London mayor at the last minute.

Read more: Michael Gove ditches Boris Johnson and enters the race to succeed David Cameron

The former education secretary said that he is "driven by conviction, not ambition", and did everything he could not to stand for leadership.

However, he said for all Johnson's "formidable talents", he could not lead, and with his leadership he can end free movement and EU supremacy over law, as well as cutting VAT on fuel.

The front bench minister also stressed the need for investment in sciences and apprenticeships, as well as a more simple and fair tax structure that rewards "high work".

"All of these changes require leadership from someone with a track record of reform ... I can provide that leadership," he said.

While there has been doubts cast over claims the Leave camp made during the course of the campaign, Gove today said he stands by them, saying he will deliver the change he pledged during the campaign.

He went on to say that the best person to get the UK out of the EU, is someone who campaigned to leave the EU. "It is the best thing for our country, and it is the best thing for the Conservative party," he said.

Read more: Liam Fox has confirmed that he will fight to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister and Conservative party leader

Home secretary Theresa May will have something else to say about that, having garnered the support of a number of ministers and backbench MPs.

The two are the frontrunners, with Andrea Leadsom, Stephen Crabb and Liam Fox all having thrown their hats into the ring.

Former chancellor Ken Clarke today called on Gove to withdraw his bid. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

I do think Michael Gove would do us all a favour if he were to stand down now and speed up the process because I do think one of the first priorities for a leader of a party and certainly for a prime minister is that you should have the trust, so far as possible, of your colleagues.

I was one of those who personally was appalled by the idea of Boris Johnson being prime minister but I've not fallen out with him personally. It's not encouraging that he stood alongside Boris throughout the campaign as his right-hand man, he was publicly declared to be his manager.

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