Michael Gove has said he will carry on as an MP amid speculation that he could resign his seat in Parliament.
Last month the Conservative former cabinet minister said he does not expect to serve in government again.
On Tuesday, The Guardian reported that a Liberal Democrat source said the party had heard from several sources in Surrey Heath that Mr Gove could be about to resign the seat.
Mr Gove, a supporter of Rishi Sunak in the Tory leadership race, was also non-committal when asked if he would support a budget put forward by Liz Truss that contained tax cuts while inflation remained at current levels.
“Obviously if Liz wins and she brings forward a budget, I, like everyone, will look at the measures. But it’s my natural instinct always to support the leader of the Conservative Party,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Amid reports that the Lib Dems are targeting his seat because they believe he is about to resign, Mr Gove told LBC: “It’s not so. I will be continuing as MP for Surrey Heath for as long as my constituents want me.”
Asked if he will be at the “top table” if Liz Truss wins the Conservative leadership race, Mr Gove said: “I don’t think so. I think Liz has got a very very talented team of supporters. She will want to make sure that she has a cabinet wholly aligned with her agenda and plans.”
In reference to a rugby metaphor used by Boris Johnson before he became Prime Minister, Mr Gove was asked if he would pick up the ball if it came out of the back of the scrum.
“I think anyone who has seen me play rugby would know that if the ball were to come out of the back of the scrum it would be very, very difficult for me to pick it up. I’d almost certainly fumble it and fall flat on my face in the mud,” he said.
“I don’t anticipate at all being in government if Liz wins.”
Mr Gove told Times Radio: “I’m going to stay on as an MP. I’m going to make arguments for the vital importance of carrying on with the levelling-up mission that Boris (Johnson) started.
“I’m going to be arguing very strongly for a focus on education, on the environment, on prison reform, that is compassionate, and progressive, and in the best traditions of the Conservative Party.
“And I’ll be doing that as the majority of Conservative MPs do, from the back benches.
“I’ll also be looking out for my constituents in Surrey Heath and making sure that I’m representing them effectively.”
Speaking to BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme, he laughed off the idea of taking up a job as a newspaper editor as well as his work in Parliament.
In August, Mr Gove wrote in The Times: “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.”