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PARCEL OF ROGUES; BRITAIN ON THE BRINK OUT DUO'S SUSPICIOUS MINDS They are the most appalling bunch of back-stabbing, self-promoting chancers and one of them will be our new prime minister .. but at least it won't be Boris.

Byline: BORIS Johnson's career TORCUIL CRICHTON Westminster Editor

BORIS Johnson's career was left dangling from a zipwire by the goolies yesterday after he was strung up by his Brexit sidekick Michael Gove.

Gove, spurred on by his journalist wife Sarah Vine, knifed his campaign leader by declaring his own bid to be the next prime minister.

That led to Johnson abandoning his lifetime ambition to replace his fellow Old Etonian David Cameron in No10.

Johnson left MPs aghast when he announced he would not run in the Tory leadership race.

Gove had announced he would stand just hours earlier.

The treachery of the Scots-born Justice Secretary was met with pledges of vengeance from Johnson's supporters.

But the real fury was reserved for the Tory buffoon himself.

He played a major role in the Leave campaign to further his Downing Street ambitions - and is now walking away, having blown Britain out of Europe.

In the Commons, Alex Salmond compared Gove to Shakespeare's Macbeth, who kills King Duncan on Lady Macbeth's orders.

Salmond said: "Can we have a week-long debate on political back-stabbing? "We're going to need a week because all of the Parliamentary Labour Party will want to take part.

"But they are rank amateurs compared to the Lord Macbeth of this chamber, who, having dispatched the Prime Minister, today is dispatching the Prime Minister's greatest rival."

The first clue to the back-stabbing drama came on Wednesday when a "leaked" email from Gove's wife Sarah Vine urged her husband to seek "specific" assurances from Johnson in return for his support.

Overnight, Gove sprang a trap and declared his own candidacy. He didn't give Johnson any advance warning about his decision.

Gove said: "I respect and admire all the candidates running for the leadership.

"In particular, I wanted to help build a team behind Boris Johnson, so that a politician who argued for leaving the European Union could lead us to a better future.

"But I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead."

Several senior Tories, including Nick Boles and Dominic Raab, transferred their allegiance from Johnson to Gove.

It was Gove's second major act of treachery. He had betrayed his close friend Cameron by backing the Leave side in the referendum - a vote that cost the Prime Minister his job.

Until yesterday, Gove had repeatedly denied having leadership ambitions. He once swore he would sign his name in blood on parchment to declare that he did not want to be PM.

Justice minister Raab tried to explain why he and his boss Gove were withdrawing their support for Johnson.

He said: " We were striving and struggling not just for a dream ticket, but a dream team.

"Putting together a really strong unifying team was an absolute condition. Boris was cavalier with assurances he made.

"We're picking a prime minister here to lead the country, not a school prefect."

In contrast to the chaos that engulfed the Brexiteer wing of the Tory party, Theresa May launched a smooth and confident leadership bid yesterday morning.

The Home Secretary presented herself as an alternative to the "showy gimmicks" of other candidates. It was one of several attacks she launched on Johnson.

May said: "If ever there was a time for a prime minister who is ready and able to do the job from day one, this is it."

She floored complex questions about her stance on Brexit with a strong retort: "My pitch is very simple - I'm Theresa May and I think I'm the best person to be prime minister."

May said she would not trigger Article 50, which begins a two-year window for the UK's withdrawal from the EU, until the end of the year at the earliest.

She ruled out the prospect of a second referendum or an emergency Budget in the wake of the Leave vote, as proposed by George Osborne.

May also said she would scrap the Chancellor's central target to eliminate the budget deficit by the end of the decade.

She added: "While it is absolutely vital that the Government continues with its intention to reduce public spending and cut the budget deficit, we should no longer seek to reach a budget surplus by the end of the Parliament."

Minister Andrea Leadsom, MP Liam Fox and Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb are also in the running to be Tory leader.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt pulled out of the race.

Tory MPs will decide which two candidates to back.

The party membership will then vote, with the winner of the contest set to be announced on September 9.

hobson's choice.. What we know about the motley crew running for the Tory leadership MICHAEL GOVE BAMPOT BAROMETER (-10) A DESPICABLE opportunist who has a history of being wrong on almost everything.

He opposed the Northern Ireland peace process, turned out to be the worst English education secretary in living memory and now he's taken Britain to the brink of ruin through Brexit.

Gove, 48, stood on a picket line for months during the Aberdeen Journals strike - then became a key component of one of the most anti-union governments in history.

A charlatan. A liar. A disgrace.

theResa maY BAMPOT BAROMETER (-9) THE right-wing Home Secretary backed Remain in the referendum, even if she was entirely unconvincing during the campaign.

But her track-record suggests her tenure as PM would be a nightmare.

She says the benefits of mass migration are "close to zero" and that it has an unsustainable impact on housing, schools and hospitals.

May, 59, championed the abhorrent anti-migrant "Go Home" posters and she wants to pull Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights. Worse than Thatcher.

STEPHEN CRABB BAMPOT BAROMETER (-5) HE'S touted as a unity candidate who, unlike most Tories, understands what it's like not to be born into privilege.

The argument is based on the fact he was born in Scotland and raised in a working-class, single-parent household that relied on the welfare state.

But his voting habits tell a different story. He backed welfare cuts, the crackdown on trade unions and tax cuts for the richest. It's an appalling thought, but Crabb, 43, still might be the most palatable option in a horrifying contest.

LIAM FOX BAMPOT BAROMETER (-8) THE Scots-born MP was rejected as Tory leader in 2005 and resigned in disgrace as a government minister.

As defence secretary, he allowed his close friend Adam Werrity to take up an unofficial and secret role in which he attended meetings at the Ministry of Defence.

Despite not having security clearance, Werrity had access to Fox's diary, printed business cards announcing himself as his advisor and even joined him at meetings with foreign dignitaries.

Fox, 54, also backed Brexit. Enough said.

ANDREA LEADSOM BAMPOT BAROMETER (-7) SHE made her name during the Brexit campaign by being willing to spout the most disgraceful lies of the Leave camp.

The energy minister is a big believer in scrapping free movement and is keen to do free trade negotiations with the rest of the world.

Leadsom has no track record to speak of and she is a massive long-shot for leader.

The grinning idiot still insists Brexit will have no economic downsides. Leadsom, 53, clearly has spent the last week with her head in the sand and doesn't trust reality, never mind experts.

BoJo's mojo crushed underfoot by pal

CAPTION(S):

FLYING FOX Johnson led Brexit and is now walking away from mess

AMBUSH Slippery Gove knifed Cameron and Johnson. Pic: Toby Melville
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 1, 2016
Words:1264
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