By Claire Zillman
July 1, 2016

Brutus used a knife. U.K. Justice Secretary Michael Gove, on the other hand, seemed to rely on the most 21st century of technology flubs.

In a back-stabbing episode that’s prompted comparisons to House of Cards and Julius Caesar’s assassination, U.K. politics fell into further disarray yesterday, thanks in large part to an email mishap by Gove’s wife Sarah Vine, a columnist for the Daily Mail. On Wednesday, Vine emailed her misgivings about Boris Johnson’s potential as prime minister to her husband, but “accidentally” copied a member of the public on the message. Thursday morning—perhaps emboldened by his wife’s widely broadcast insight—Gove made the stunning move of undercutting his once-ally Johnson by announcing his own candidacy for Tory leader and prime minister and causing Johnson, considered the frontrunner, to withdraw from contention.

Vine’s email was either an honest mistake that happened to benefit her husband or an intentional strategy so clever even Claire Underwood would be impressed. Either way, removing Johnson from the running could ultimately benefit Home Secretary Theresa May the most, since the former London mayor was seen as her biggest competition, and because Thursday’s drama again portrayed her as the mature adult among a bunch of Mean Boys.

Claire Zillman, writer for Fortune (filling in for Laura Cohn today)

@clairezillman

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