October 2012: “I’m not equipped”

On the BBC, he said, unequivocally, “I could not be prime minister, I’m not equipped to be prime minister, I don’t want to be prime minister.”

May 2016: “I don’t want to do it”

In the Daily Telegraph:

So, is Mr Gove interested in becoming prime minister?

He is unequivocal. “No I’m not. There…I don’t want to do it and there are people who are far better equipped than me to do it.

“And there are people who have advocated Leave and people who have advocated Remain who are far better than me to do it.”

June 3, 2016: “Count me out”

In a Sky News Q&A about Brexit:

There are lots of talented people who could be prime minister, but count me out … Whatever poster you put up, do not put up one of me!

June 18, 2016: “You need to be an exceptional person”

Back to the Daily Telegraph:

“In order to be prime minister of this country, you need to be an exceptional person. David Cameron is an exceptional person with exceptional talents and he does the job well… I don’t think I have got that exceptional level of ability required for the job.”

June 30, 2016: “I do not want to be prime minister”

Most remarkably, Gove emphasized his previous rejections of the top job in his statement announcing his candidacy for the top job:

I have repeatedly said that I do not want to be Prime Minister. That has always been my view. But events since last Thursday have weighed heavily with me.

What gives? “I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead,” Gove said. After campaigning tirelessly alongside him for the UK to leave the EU, this is an abrupt realization. The first signs of a break came yesterday via a strange email from his wife, apparently sent in error to somebody else and promptly leaked. It hinted at disagreements between Gove and Johnson about how to proceed after winning the Brexit referendum.

“Do not concede any ground,” she wrote. “Be your stubborn best.” But don’t, apparently, be so stubborn that you stick to your previous positions.

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