UK Politics

Michael Gove: Theresa May was 'right to sack me'

Theresa May and Michael Gove Image copyright PA
Image caption Former home secretary Theresa May with former education secretary Michael Gove

Former cabinet minister Michael Gove says Theresa May was right to sack him after she became prime minister.

"If I'd been in her shoes, I would have sacked me too," he told the BBC.

Mr Gove said he regretted standing for the Tory leadership, saying he made "mistakes" in the way he withdrew his support from Boris Johnson.

He now had to take the consequences of his decision, including the fact that an act of treachery has become widely known as "doing a Gove", he said.

The 49-year-old former justice secretary made the comments during an interview with Fern Britton, to be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday.

'Not the way to do it'

He appeared to suggest he had not given up on a return to front-line politics, saying he hoped to "make a contribution" in the future.

Mr Gove said his decision to back Leave in the EU referendum had placed a "significant strain" on his relationship with his long-term friend David Cameron.

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Media captionMichael Gove told Fern Britton that his friendship with the Camerons was put under "significant strain"
Image copyright PA
Image caption Michael Gove changed his mind about supporting Boris Johnson as Tory leader and PM

He and his wife, Daily Mail journalist Sarah Vine, had been close friends with Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha - but the two couples have not had a "proper conversation" since the 23 June poll, he said.

Mr Cameron quit as prime minister after he lost the EU referendum, sparking a leadership campaign which saw Mr Gove back Boris Johnson.

He then changed his mind and decided to run himself, publicly questioning Mr Johnson's ability to do the job.

Mr Gove would not reveal what Mr Johnson said to him when they spoke after he withdrew his support, but he conceded that "the way in which I declared my stand for the leadership, I shouldn't have done it that way".

"As I look back on that time, I think that there were mistakes that I made...

"I also think that my initial instinct that I was not the best person to put themselves forward as a potential prime minister, well most of my colleagues agreed."

'Nothing is forever'

After Mrs May entered Downing Street, Mr Johnson entered the cabinet as foreign secretary, while Mr Gove remains on the Conservative backbenches.

"When Theresa May became prime minister she said that she no longer had a place for me in the cabinet and, to be honest, if I'd been in her shoes I would have sacked me too," said Mr Gove.

"So I entirely accept that sacking me at the time was the right thing to do.

"I had six years when I was a government minister. I had a chance to make a difference - I hope that I did."

But he conceded that "nothing is forever in politics".

"I have to accept that the way in which I spent the final week or so of my ministerial life involved my making mistakes and having made mistakes you have to take the consequences."

Mr Gove said he is now focusing on his work on the Commons committee on exiting the EU and wanted to campaign for children at risk of abuse or neglect.

Fern Britton meets Michael Gove can be seen on BBC One at 10:00 GMT on Sunday, 11 December.

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