Boris Johnson asked David Cameron whether Michael Gove was 'a bit cracked' after 2016 betrayal

Posted On: 
16th September 2019

Boris Johnson questioned Michael Gove's state of mind after his former Vote Leave ally abandoned him during the 2016 Tory leadership race, David Cameron has said.

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson on the 2016 campaign trail.

Mr Johnson asked whether Mr Gove was "a bit cracked" after he pulled his support for the then-frontrunner's leadership bid and launched his own ill-fated push for the top Conservative job.

The claim is contained in Mr Cameron's memoirs, which are being serialised in The Times, and which have already seen the former Prime Minister train his fire on key figures in the 2016 campaign to take Britain out of the European Union.

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The ex-Tory leader reveals that he texted Mr Johnson on the day of Mr Gove's move, saying: "You should have stuck with me, mate."

Mr Johnson replied: "Blimey, is he [Michael] a bit cracked? Great speech last night, everyone watched and thought we’d all gone insane to lose you and people were looking at me as if I was a leper, but you had eleven hard years of party leadership and six superbly as PM, more than I will ever do. Boris."

According to the former PM, Mr Johnson also said he was "absolutely miserable" that the success of the Vote Leave campaign had driven Mr Cameron from office in the days after the vote - while Mr Gove was said to be "more shocked than anyone" about the outcome.

Then-Chancellor George Osborne also felt that Mr Gove's move to kill off Mr Johnson's campaign was "great news" because it would leave both candidates "dead in the water", according to the ex-Tory leader.

Mr Cameron writes: "George sat there beaming at the TV. 'We have taken Boris out. Now on to Port Stanley!' he said, meaning it was Michael’s turn to fall next."

The former Prime Minister's latest revelations come after Home Secretary Priti Patel shrugged off his volley of attacks on the 2016 Brexit campaign.

Mr Cameron accused Brexiteers of behaving "appallingly" in the run-up to the vote, and said he had wanted to sack Ms Patel, the then-employment minister, but feared making her a "martyr" to the anti-EU cause. 

But Ms Patel shot back: "We've all moved on. And the fact of the matter is we're now working to deliver that referendum mandate. That is so important. There is no point going over the past."

Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay meanwhile paid tribute to Mr Cameron's record on the economy. But he added: "There’s a book to sell."