Michael Gove has said he would not run against Boris Johnson for leader of the Conservative Party after admitting he “made a mistake” when he scuppered the prime minister’s chances in 2016.
The levelling up secretary told Sky News he “enthusiastically” voted for the prime minister to stay as party leader in Monday night’s confidence ballot.
Asked whether he would run against Mr Johnson as a potential new leader again, Mr Gove said: “Oh god no!”
His tune has changed since 2016, when he withdrew his support for Mr Johnson to become Conservative Party leader – and therefore prime minister – at the last minute and announced his own candidacy.
As MPs then rapidly withdrew their support for Mr Johnson, he pulled out of the race to replace David Cameron and Theresa May won and became PM.
Mr Gove told Sky News: “I made a mistake in 2016, a misjudgement.
“If you’ve been in politics for a little while, as I have been, then you know, there are always mistakes you can look back on.
“But no, I think the prime minister is doing a good job, I’ve been privileged to work alongside him when he made sure the Brexit entanglement, the imbruglia was broken.”
Mr Gove’s last-minute decision to run for leader in 2016 was seen as scuppering Mr Johnson’s chances.
Had pro-Leave Mr Johnson won in 2016, the UK’s trajectory would have been quite different in the wake of the vote to leave the EU.
Mrs May, who voted against Brexit, eventually stood down in 2019 as she struggled to get her Brexit deal through parliament and Mr Johnson replaced her.
Mr Gove added that he “can understand” why some of his Tory colleagues “have concerns” but said it is important the government demonstrates it is “focused on delivering for everyone across the United Kingdom”.