Michael Gove succeeded David Lidington as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Boris Johnson has named Michael Gove in his cabinet after the pair battled each other for the Conservative leadership. Johnson is now the Prime Minister and Gove has assumed the role of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Gove previously served as the Environment Secretary in Theresa May’s government and he has kept his place in the cabinet. But his new role is lesser-known and Gove has been removed from the limelight.
Here, we take a look at the responsibilities of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and whether Gove could use this as a strategic role to boost another Tory leadership bid in the future.
Key roles and responsibilities
Traditionally, the holder of this role oversaw the daily dealings of the Duchy of Lancaster – a private estate of the sovereign. Nowadays, the Chancellor’s primary focus lies away from the Duchy of Lancaster. However, Gove will still be in charge of administering the estates and rents of the Duchy of Lancaster; but this will take up around one day per week and the rest of the time will be spent in Westminster.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster chairs and deputy chairs the cabinet, as well as implementing government business. Gove will also give oversight to all proposed cabinet policies.
Gove’s main responsibility will be acting as an advisory source for Johnson. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster advises the Prime Minister on the development and implementation of government policy.
One new role has been introduced since the European Union referendum. Gove will be in charge of overseeing the devolution consequences of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Who has previously held the role?
Prior to Gove, the role was occupied by David Lidington between January 2018 and July 2019. He took over from Patrick McLoughlin and both of these two served in May’s government.
The most notable Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in the 21st century is Ed Miliband. The former Labour leader (between 2010 and 2015) served as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster between June 2007 and October 2008. Another notable name in recent history is Kenneth Clarke, who held the role between June 1987 and July 1988.
Sir Henry de Haycock was the first Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, starting in 1361 and serving until 1378. Since then, several notable politicians have served some time as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. This includes former Prime Ministers Clement Attlee and Winston Churchill.
Can this role boost a future leadership bid?
Whenever Gove makes a political move, there will be critics judging this as a strategic manoeuvre in his long-term plan. But is this move a tactical one or a demotion for Johnson to gradually phase Gove out of the public eye?
He has gone from being a prominent cabinet member with regular airtime to a lesser-known role. While Attlee and Churchill have traced the route from the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to Prime Minister, it is not exactly a well-trodden path.
Crucially, however, Gove has clung onto a place in the cabinet despite his history with the Prime Minister. He has managed to stay relevant to some extent and escape a demotion to the backbenches. He will also avoid overbearing public scrutiny while he holds this role.
Gove could try to keep himself in the public eye just often enough to thrust himself into contention for the next Tory leadership campaign. Or perhaps that has become a forgotten pipedream after two failed attempts. Gove might instead be about to accept the transition into a career of advisory politics.