SURELY one of the most farcical aspects of the current Brexit debacle is the concept that Michael Gove could become the next Prime Minister.

I can’t think of another politician so universally disliked and distrusted in Scotland and indeed other areas of the UK. And let’s face it, that’s against some tough competition. I mean think of Boris Johnson!

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They are the thieves who fell out good and proper, as Gove was quick to manoeuvre Boris out of the way when the once tousled-haired toff floundered in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum back in 2016. You would think that Boris would have been accustomed to mornings after the night before but in the wake of the referendum, Boris’s mettle was tested and he buckled under the pressure.

And applying the pressure with a quick dart of the back-stabbing dirk was Gove, who betrayed his former comrade before you could say “here is my own nomination form for leader”. Having ratted on Cameron, Gove then re-ratted on Johnson. It was all to no avail for, despite the enthusiastic backing of the “honourable member for the 18th century” Jacob Rees-Mogg, his bid for leadership deservedly fell flat. Even Tory MPs have stomachs that can be turned.

This is Michael Gove all over – opportunist extraordinaire. We saw it just recently, when he stood in for a mercifully voiceless Theresa May in the House of Commons to lead the debate on ruling out a no-deal Brexit as one part of a rather inedible and unappetising ex-pat Tory sandwich, with Liam Fox closing the debate later. Gove’s revoltingly insincere support for his leader’s “unselfish and unstinting patriotism” was only topped by his disdain for the land of his birth, Scotland, and in particular, the SNP.

In a thoroughly unedifying performance, he slagged off the SNP as “partitionist part-timers” then refused to even debate the third largest opposition party, all to roars of approval from his Conservative colleagues. Here was an opportunity for Gove to suck up to not just the PM but to all the rabid Unionists in the House, to keep his options open should the PM finally call time on her ordeal. He called the SNP a circus, but the only show in town that day was the Gove show – petty and vindictive with an eye to the main chance.

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He was also economical with the truth during his diatribe, claiming that support has grown for the Union since Brexit. If he was to spend time in Scotland outside his occasional day-tripping, he might find out this is quite the reverse. If it comes to another General Election, then voters will get the chance to reveal a very different take on that one. And that’s not the only thing he’s been caught telling porkies about. Anyone remember that big red bus with the promise of an extra £350 million a week for the NHS once we’d left Europe? Gove is about as popular with doctors and nurses as he is with teachers, after his disastrous stint as education secretary. Finally, for all his headline-grabbing actions as Defra minister, news just this past week has revealed that the UK will miss all of its 2020 nature targets on protecting wildlife and cutting pollution.

But with friends in low but well-remunerated and powerful places, Gove knows he needn’t worry about the odd bump on the road to rule. His Rolodex reveals direct links with media mogul and political puppeteer Rupert Murdoch for one, far-right strategist and populist poster boy Steve Bannon for another and who could possibly forget his nauseatingly, fawning interview with the new president Donald Trump post-victory in 2016?

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Mind you, even Gove must wonder what he has done to deserve supporters like the disgraced and discredited Toby Young, who argued in The Spectator just the other day that Gove was the best man for caretaker PM to guide us through the choppy waters of the withdrawal agreement. “Cometh the hour, cometh the man,” Young pompously purported. Hardly a 21st-century endorsement, but any port decanter in a storm.

Gove will be counting on his establishment buddies to back him now the chips are down. He probably doesn’t care that he’s not even the people’s third choice. If Brexit has shown us anything, it’s revealed how divorced from reality MPs like Gove are, floating in their Westminster bubble, deaf and immune to the people on the outside who bear the brunt of cruel Tory policies such as austerity and the “hostile environment”, not forgetting those who will be the real victims of Brexit, ie everyone, except the rich and privileged.

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Finally, there’s one other blot in Gove’s CV that will not be easily wiped from memory. Let’s not forget that Michael Gove and Theresa May have one big thing in common other than their un-shaking belief in the Union. They were both against the Good Friday Agreement. In a pamphlet he wrote back in 2000 for a right-wing think tank, Gove even described it as “a mortal stain” and “a humiliation”, despite huge support for it from the people of Northern Ireland who had lived first-hand with the terrible bloodshed. With this back catalogue, it’s hard to imagine a worse candidate for negotiating the sensitive subject of a hard border due to Brexit.

So as far as two devolved nations of the UK are concerned, Gove is not at the top of their Christmas card list, never mind their idea of the best candidate to handle Brexit at this terminal stage. Not coincidentally, these are both the two devolved nations that overwhelmingly voted to Remain. Gove may well be thinking they are the price to pay for power and the fulfilment of his personal Brexit dream, not so much Great Britain as Greater Gove.

There is one thing we can depend on with this slimy, sleekit character. He will ensure that it’s May who takes the blame as he makes a grab for personal power.