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Michael Gove reveals secret feelings about Brexit and admits he had to be ‘more upfront’

Michael Gove has admitted he showed “moral cowardice” by failing to be upfront with David Cameron about his plans to play a leading role in the Brexit referendum campaign.

The pair fell out before the 2016 vote when Mr Gove, then the justice secretary, abandoned his ally to join the Brexit camp in a move said to have left Lord Cameron “shocked and hurt”.

Former Chancellor George Osborne said Mr Gove had assured Lord Cameron in his Downing Street flat that he would not play a “prominent role” in the campaign, only to end up chairing it.

He asked: “Did you deceive David? He certainly felt at the time betrayed.” Speaking on Mr Osbrone’s Political Currency podcast, Mr Gove said he didn’t believe he did.

But he added: “As I mentioned, I do think that I could have been clearer earlier.

“And I think that was an example of, on the one hand, cowardice on my part, moral cowardice, on the other hand, a recognition that perhaps there’s this feeling in politics, perhaps something will turn up, perhaps this moment won’t come when we have to make that decision.

“But I think David, entirely fairly, should have expected me to have been more upfront earlier.”

The current Levelling Up Secretary said he went “further than you’d imagine or anticipated at the beginning of the campaign”, recalling: “I didn’t want to take part in the debates, the television shows that I ultimately took part in or play as prominent a role.”

Former Labour Shadow Chancellor and podcast co-host Ed Balls then asked Mr Gove whether he had been egged on by his ex-adviser Dominic Cummings.

The Cabinet minister said: “Yes. And again, one of the arguments was, ‘if you don’t do this, they’ll have Farage on,’ and then with a sweep of his arm, pointing to all the people in the office, including people who had been working with me for years, said ‘you cannot let these people down’.”

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