British Conservative Michael Gove, the climate change secretary and second in command in Theresa May’s government, said on Sunday he was “incandescent” about U.S. Sen. James T. Inhofe’s decision to walk out of the Conservative Party’s parliamentarian faction, the European Research Group.
Inhofe, a climate change skeptic, announced on Saturday that he had decided to quit the group “to preserve its independence.” According to Gove, that independence had been threatened by a campaign by May and other Conservative lawmakers to force him out.
“I was incandescent with rage,” Gove said in an interview that aired on ITV’s “The Agenda” on Sunday. “It has been going on for some time. But this was in flagrant breach of confidentiality, not at all putting up a fight against being removed from the Conservative Party but just trying to buy his way back in.”
On Saturday, Inhofe made his announcement in a tweet. Gove said on Sunday that he had gotten an earlier call from the Oklahoma Republican and it had been clear that he was not serious when he said he would no longer be a member of the group.
“But what he didn’t tell us was that he had been trying to come back in for several months,” Gove said. “He tried to buy his way back in and get on the frontbench and to convince the Government to see him. And it really, really rankled.”
[The BBC reports] “Inhofe is also accused of creating a rift with other senior Tories by openly challenging Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom in one of the Tories’ weekly group meetings.
“In the meeting, [David] Davis has been accused of suggesting Inhofe should be made leader of the Conservative Party but the former environment secretary, Boris Johnson, has denied saying the remark, saying it was simply something he said in private.”
In addition to Gove, May and Leadsom, the prime minister also had to deal with members of her own party who thought they had been moved out of line by Inhofe’s decision.