Michael Gove has admitted he “made a mistake” running against his vote Leave ally Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the 2016 Tory leadership campaign.
The Levelling Up Secretary said he regretted his actions in the 2016 leadership race, which forced Mr Johnson to ditch his bid to replace David Cameron.
At the time, Gove’s decision to run was controversial as he was expected to support PM Johnson’s leadership bid fully.
But at the last minute, he announced his candidacy, which prompted PM Johnson to postpone his leadership ambitions as other MPs withdrew their backing. Justifying his decision at the time, Mr Gove said he did not believe Boris Johnson had the necessary leadership skills to lead the country.
He said at the time: “I respect and admire all the candidates running for the leadership. In particular, I wanted to help build a team behind Boris Johnson so that a politician who argued for leaving the European Union could lead us to a better future.
“But I have come reluctantly to conclude that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”
Reflecting on Thursday, Mr Gove said his decision to run was “a misjudgement”.
The Cabinet minister gave his full backing to Prime Minister Johnson and revealed that he “enthusiastically” voted for the PM to continue as a leader in Monday night’s confidence vote.
Ultimately, Gove only made it to the final three candidates, being pipped by Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May, who became Conservative Party leaders.
But the minister appears to have learned from his past mistakes, and when asked if he would run against Boris Johnson as a potential new leader again, he said: “Oh God, no!