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Gove compares 2016 leadership bid sabotage to an ‘unexploded bomb going off’

Mr Gove’s decision to run in effect forced Boris Johnson to pull out of the contest.

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Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (right) Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (right) Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (right) Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Michael Gove has likened his 2016 sabotage of Boris Johnson’s Tory leadership bid to an “unexploded bomb going off in my own hands”.

The Communities Secretary caused surprise in the race to replace David Cameron by quitting as Mr Johnson’s campaign leader and instead announcing he would stand himself.

The drastic move put himself on a collision course with Mr Johnson and effectively forced him to pull out.

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Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel during a visit to Farmhouse Biscuits in Nelson, Lancashire, where they were campaigning on behalf of the Vote Leave EU referendum campaign (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel during a visit to Farmhouse Biscuits in Nelson, Lancashire, where they were campaigning on behalf of the Vote Leave EU referendum campaign (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

PA

Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Priti Patel during a visit to Farmhouse Biscuits in Nelson, Lancashire, where they were campaigning on behalf of the Vote Leave EU referendum campaign (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The two senior Tories, who were both on the Vote Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum, have since worked together in Mr Johnson’s administration.

Speaking in the Commons, shadow planning minister Ruth Cadbury sought assurances that Mr Gove was not planning to revive controversial planning reforms.

She welcomed his replies “saying effectively that the Government’s developers’ charter is being reviewed and I haven’t seen (him) torpedo something so effectively since he sunk the Prime Minister’s leadership in 2016”.

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Boris Johnson announcing he would not seek the Tory leadership in 2016 following Michael Gove’s surprise move to join the race (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Boris Johnson announcing he would not seek the Tory leadership in 2016 following Michael Gove’s surprise move to join the race (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

PA

Boris Johnson announcing he would not seek the Tory leadership in 2016 following Michael Gove’s surprise move to join the race (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Responding, Mr Gove joked: “Well, I’m grateful to (her) for taking me back to the halcyon days of 2016.

“It wasn’t so much a torpedo being launched as an unexploded bomb going off in my own hands.

“But as the former member for Kensington and Chelsea Sir Malcolm Rifkind pointed out, one of the things about committing political suicide is that you always live to regret it.

“On her broader point, I think it’s only fair to say that the planning white paper was mischaracterised by many.

“There is so much that is good in it but it’s also important that we listen to concerns that were expressed in order to ensure that an already powerful and compelling suite of proposals is even more effective.”

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