Michael Gove reverses opposition to Boris Johnson saying he would make a 'great Prime Minister'

Posted On: 
16th July 2019

Michael Gove has reversed his previous opposition to Boris Johnson becoming Tory leader saying his former rival would make a “great Prime Minister”.

The duo led the Vote Leave campaign before Michael Gove knifed Boris Johnson's leadership bid
Credit: 
PA Images

He stopped short of an outright endorsement, but it does represent a significant change of heart from the Environment Secretary - who famously knifed Mr Johnson’s last bid to enter Number 10.

Mr Gove said back in 2016 the former Foreign Secretary could not “provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead” after David Cameron resigned following the EU referendum.

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But he has now appeared to change his tune, saying of Mr Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, his rival for PM: “We can trust them both to do the right thing on every critical issue.”

And in a speech in south west London he claimed of the two candidates left in the race to replace Theresa May: “I know that both would be great Prime Ministers.”

However he would not be drawn on which of the men he was voting for in the contest, saying he’d be happy to stay on in Cabinet under either – despite both now seeming to favour a no-deal Brexit, something he has come out strongly against.

Three years ago Mr Gove was part of Mr Johnson’s campaign team, and had been expected to be handed a senior position in his Cabinet had he won the contest to replace Mr Cameron.

But at the last minute he withdrew his support, saying “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 the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead.”

Instead he launched his own ill-fated bid to become Prime Minister, which in turn caused Mr Johnson to pull out of the race and caused a deep rift between the two men who had jointly led the Vote Leave campaign to victory just a week earlier.

But fast-forward to present day and Mr Gove heaped praise on Mr Johnson in his speech, saying: “Boris has been passionate about the environment for decades.

“When I first met him in the Eighties he described himself to me as a passionately green Tory, and in every role he has had he has championed the environment. 

“As foreign secretary he has been a powerful and persuasive voice on safeguarding wildlife from exploitation, protecting our oceans and fighting climate change.

“I know that both would be great prime ministers and I want to affirm today that we can trust them both to do the right thing on every critical issue facing us all — most critically the environment.”