I didn’t stab Boris in the back and it wasn’t treachery, insists Michael Gove
Watch: The former justice secretary has given first broadcast interview since leaving government.
Boris Johnson allegedly “wanted to punch” Michael Gove after the former justice secretary set out his Tory leadership bid in the summer.
Friends and family of Johnson were equally unimpressed that Gove had jumped ship from Team Boris and announced his own tilt at the top job.
Tory MP Jake Berry said there was a “very deep pit reserved in hell” for Gove. And the former London mayor’s father Stanley told the BBC that three words came to mind when he thinks about Michael Gove: “Et tu, Brute?”
But that’s not quite how Gove sees it. Asked about his actions during the summer, Gove told Radio 4's World At One:
"I wouldn't say I stabbed him in the back. But I certainly came to the judgement in the immediate aftermath of the ref campaign that while I initially thought Boris was the right person to be Prime Minister, I didn't think - for a variety of reasons which I won't go into - that he wasn't the right person to be Prime Minister at that point.
"It is not treachery. I explained my reasons at the time. Revisiting them now would, I think, be…er the water is under the bridge.”
In a lengthy interview, Gove also praised Johnson as “a phenomenally talented individual who put public service first” during the Brexit campaign and “a success as foreign secretary”.
He admitted that his personal relationship with David Cameron had broken down since the referendum campaign, revealing the pair had not spoken since "a while back".
He also heaped praise on Theresa May and left the door open to the possibility of a return to frontline politics, saying: "If the chance came to serve again then of course I would happily say yes, but I’m very happy being on the back benches at the moment because it gives me the opportunity to do all sorts of other things."
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