MICHAEL Gove has announced he is leaving frontline politics and endorsed Rishi Sunak for Prime Minister while accusing Liz Truss of taking “a holiday from reality”.

The Aberdonian former Levelling-Up Secretary faced the end of his career regardless of who replaces Boris Johnson, but Ms Truss in particular is said to regard him as irredeemably disloyal.

Writing in the Times, he said: “I do not expect to be in government again. But it was the privilege of my life to spend 11 years in the cabinet under three prime ministers. I know what the job requires. And Rishi has it.”

Referring to the Foreign Secretary’s plan for £30billion of unfunded tax cuts and her rejection of “handouts” to get struggling families through this winter, he added: “The answer to the cost-of-living crisis cannot be simply to reject further ‘handouts’ and cut tax.”

His endorsement came moments after Mr Sunak and Ms Truss finished their latest party hustings in Manchester.

Mr Sunak berated Tory party members for applauding Ms Truss’s tax cutting plans, repeatedly telling them they were “wrong”.

The former Chancellor also told a man who asked him a question that he appeared to be living on a “different planet”.

Mr Sunak also said some foreign policy under Ms Truss was “bonkers”, and warned his audience they would be “stuffed” electorally if they didn’t heed his warnings on inflation. 

The tetchy performance followed a poll this week suggesting Ms Struss has an unassailable lead in the race to replace Mr Johnson in Number 10.

Before appearing on stage, Mr Sunak’s campaign played an eyebrow-raising new video in which appeared to revel in his underdog status.

A gravel-voiced geezer declared: “Beware the underdog. An underdog’s got nothing to lose… Britain loves an underdog.” 

In a classic giveaway later , Mr Sunak said he was “winning the argument” about tackling inflation (rather than winning the contest) and stressed the need to support people through the winter as they faced unprecedented energy bills.

He said: “Everyone applauding [Ms Truss’s plan], I want to persuade you that you’re wrong.

"Everyone applauding that we should cancel the NHS levy and have our kids borrow and pay the bill for that, I want to tell you that you’re wrong.”

He said struggling families would not be helped by “doing things that might make us feel better for five minutes this winter and then suddenly we’ve got a big inflation problem”.

He said: “Because if we're all here talking about inflation next year, we're all stuffed, right?

"Those families.. are going to be furious with us, rightly, because we will have let them down and we will have thrown away the next election by making the mistakes now of letting inflation run out of control.

"And I don't want that to happen.”

There has been speculation at Westminster that Mr Gove, a former journalist, could become a future editor of his old paper, The Times.

He would have more experience than former Tory Chancellor George Osborne, who edited the London Evening Standard for three years after leaving the Commons in 2017.