Friday 9 December 2016

Boris allies accuse Gove of being a 'Machiavellian psychopath' who plotted to win leadership 'from the beginning'

Tim Ross and Christopher Hope

Published 03/07/2016 | 10:48

File photo dated of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (right) on the Vote Leave campaign bus: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
File photo dated of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (right) on the Vote Leave campaign bus: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

BORIS Johnson’s allies have launched a fightback against Michael Gove, drawing up a dossier of evidence that they say proves he is a “Machiavellian psychopath” who had been plotting to knife his friend in order to win the leadership “from the beginning”.

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The fraught atmosphere intensified at Westminster, with some of the former Mayor of London's supporters claiming that Mr Gove was simply a “suicide bomber” who was being used by allies of Prime Minister David Cameron and George Osborne to “take out” their rival.

Britain's Justice Secretary Michael Gove (L) speaks as Vote Leave campaign leader Boris Johnson listens at the group's headquarters in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool/File Photo
Britain's Justice Secretary Michael Gove (L) speaks as Vote Leave campaign leader Boris Johnson listens at the group's headquarters in London, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Stefan Rousseau/Pool/File Photo

However, allies of both Mr Gove and Mr Cameron strongly denied that Downing Street had any hand in a plot.

The British Prime Minister told friends he was deeply shocked by Mr Gove’s behaviour and felt a sense of sympathy for Mr Johnson.

One friend of the Prime Minister said Mr Cameron was “astounded” by Mr Gove’s actions, but recalled how the Justice Secretary had betrayed him in the referendum campaign.

Mr Cameron believes Mr Gove failed to honour a promise that he would not campaign vigorously for Brexit.

Michael Gove arrives at the Policy Exchange in London, as he prepared to set out his case for becoming prime minister: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Michael Gove arrives at the Policy Exchange in London, as he prepared to set out his case for becoming prime minister: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The extraordinary feud between Mr Johnson and Mr Gove ended the former mayor’s leadership bid and has damaged the Justice Secretary’s chances of progressing in the contest.

With two leading Brexit campaigners suffering from their bitter personal clash, Andrea Leadsom is quickly emerging as the preferred candidate among Tory grandees and Eurosceptics.

On Saturday, she won the private backing of a senior Thatcherite grandee, as well as public support from Lord Tebbit, and Sir William Cash, the chairman of the Commons EU scrutiny select committee.

Mr Gove has faced accusations of "treachery" since his decision to pull his support for Mr Johnson and stage his own bid for the top job.

He told The Daily Telegraph his confidence in the former London mayor had "evaporated".

"Over the past week, to my deep regret, my confidence evaporated. That led me to make the difficult decision, at no little cost, to put friendships aside and act in the national interest," he said.

With levels of support stronger than the combined total of her four rivals, Theresa May appears to be on course to take the keys to No 10 Downing Street.

Telegraph.co.uk

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