The National:

MICHAEL Gove was full of glowing words about his leader Boris Johnson today as the Prime Minister faces a Tory rebellion over Covid-19 restrictions amid the Omicron variant.

The Prime Minister is bringing in tougher Covid-19 restrictions in England to help the fight against the Omicron variant. As a result, he's facing his biggest ever rebellion from Tory MPs.

Gove defending those fresh restrictions was easily understandable ... it was when he went on to talk about Johnson's credentials as a leader, however, that he left an open goal.

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Minister for Intergovernmental Relations Gove said: “I’ve been alongside the Prime Minister since the pandemic hit in different ministerial roles.

“He has led from the front, he has had to take some incredibly difficult decisions, he’s never flinched from doing so.

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“Some of those decisions which were deeply unpopular at the time have been vindicated.

“The Prime Minister was absolutely right to make sure that appropriate protections were in place, absolutely right to take the steps that he did to set up the vaccine taskforce and to ensure that we had one of the fastest vaccine rollouts across the country, and he’s right now in the face of these facts to take a balance and proportionate approach.

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“Let’s look at the way in which the Prime Minister has led with clarity and confidence in the fight against this virus and let’s make sure that he gets the support he needs in order to make sure that this public health challenge is met with a united response.”

Adam Bienkov, chief Westminster correspondent for the Byline Times, reminded social media of an old gem from Gove's leadership candidate past.

He looked back to the Gove of 2016, who said: "I have come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead."

We think we'll go with Gove of 2016 on this one.

Talk about "clarity and confidence" and a "united response" sounds lovely – and then sounds ridiculous the instant you remember any of the headlines from the past week about the Downing Street Christmas party scandal.

It'd be easy to praise Gove for the ease with which he keeps a straight face saying all this ... but really, it's as likely that he does believe this about the PM, holding views that are so very malleable.