BORIS Johnson called Michael Gove a “bit cracked” after he betrayed him during the 2016 Tory leadership contest, David Cameron has revealed.
The dramatic move forced Mr Johnson from the contest, which was eventually won by Theresa May.
Mr Gove initially backed Mr Johnson’s campaign but then sabotaged his leadership bid by announcing he would stand himself – leading the now-PM to quit the contest.
In his memoirs, the former PM told how he “couldn’t resist texting the former front runner [saying]: ‘You should have stuck with me, mate.”
Mr Cameron said his reply was “very Boris”, asking: “Blimey, is he [Michael] a bit cracked?”
The ex-PM said Mr Johnson signed off the message by writing: “Great speech last night [at a Tory fundraising dinner], everyone watched and thought we’d all gone insane to lose you and people were looking at me as if I was a leper, but you had eleven hard years of party leadership and six superbly as PM, more than I will ever do. Boris.”
Mr Cameron said George Osborne was jubilant when Mr Johnson dropped out, saying: “We’ve taken Boris out, now on to Port Stanley!”, meaning it was Mr Gove’s turn to fall next.
The revelation will test the alliance between Mr Johnson and Mr Gove, who is now responsible for no-deal Brexit preparations in his government.
BORIS WAS ‘ABSOLUTELY MISERABLE’
Mr Cameron also revealed how, on June 24, the day after the Brexit vote, he spoke to Mr Gove on the phone.
He said: “I was on autopilot, calmly conceding defeat and offering my congratulations. He sounded more shocked than anyone.”
He revealed how he received a text from Mr Johnson saying: “Dave, I am so sorry to have been out of touch but couldn’t think what to say and now I am absolutely miserable about your decision. You have been a superb PM and leader and the country owes you eternally.”
Mr Cameron told how he then rang European leaders and then US president Barack Obama to apologise for his ultimately failed strategy to keep Britain in the EU.
The 2016 leadership battle was eventually won by Theresa May, and Mr Cameron revealed in the book how he secretly encouraged Gavin Williamson to help her campaign.
In extracts from the book published over the weekend, Mr Cameron took aim at Mr Gove, describing him as a “foam-flecked Faragist”.
Mr Cameron said the Prime Minister “didn’t believe” in Brexit and only backed the Leave campaign to further his career.
He wrote: “The conclusion I am left with is that he risked an outcome he didn’t believe in because it would help his political career.”
most read in news
However allies of Mr Johnson defended the PM and insisted he was a passionate Brexiteer.
Stephen Barclay, the Brexit secretary, said: “The Remain side was expected to win so the more prudent thing if someone is looking at their career would have been to back Remain. Boris Johnson led the [Leave] campaign, he did so because he believes in Brexit.”
He added that Mr Cameron had a “book to sell”.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “There’s no point going over the past”.