Michael Gove showered his Cabinet colleagues with praise in a think-tank speech last night – while doing his utmost to avoid mentioning his party's EU referendum trauma.
The education secretary used a speech honouring Keith Joseph, a former Cabinet member under Margaret Thatcher, to restate his commitment to a "compassionate" Conservatism and his leader David Cameron, after his recent comments saying that he would vote to leave the EU.
Gove singled out numerous senior Conservatives for praise, painting their achievements in the same light as that of Thatcher's right-hand-man.
"Certainly, giving the behaviour of a number of egregiously greedy, and foolishly reckless individuals there has to be a change of culture, attitude and regulation in the City," Gove said.
"That's why George Osborne is introducing comprehensive banking reform in the city.
"Jeremy [Hunt] is acting squarely in Sir Keith's tradition as a minister driven by personal commitment and a strong sense of moral purpose to want to reduce human suffering, and so is another of our Conservative Cabinet colleagues, Iain Duncan Smith."
Some audience members expressed concerned over the future of the Conservative party and the possible infiltration of Ukip.
There was no mention of Gove's comments on Sunday, where he became the first senior Cabinet member to announce that he would vote to leave the EU in the event of a referendum.
Gove also commented on the disproportionate number of Oxbridge students coming from Eton and other non-state schools, compared with students from comprehensive.
"There are five schools, four independent: Eton, Westminster, St Paul's Boys and St Paul's Girls, plus one sixth form college, Hills Road in Cambridge, which get more students into Oxbridge, than 2,000 state schools and colleges put together," he added.
The minister also noted that more boys get into Oxbridge from Eton alone – more than the entire cohort of about 100,000 children eligible for free-school meals each year.
"So much of the department's work now is concentrated on helping to eliminate the achievement gap which still exists between children from poorer homes and their better off peers," Gove said.