Michael Gove Acknowledges Displaying ‘Moral Cowardice’ During the Brexit Campaign

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Michael Gove has confessed to “moral cowardice” regarding his conduct in the Brexit campaign, particularly for not informing then-Prime Minister David Cameron of his significant involvement in the Leave campaign.

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The secretary for levelling up revealed on the Political Currency podcast, co-hosted by former chancellor George Osborne and ex-Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls, that Dominic Cummings, a key figure in the Vote Leave campaign and ex-aide to Boris Johnson, had convinced him to take on a more substantial role.

Osborne, who was firmly against Brexit, mentioned that Gove had assured Lord Cameron he wouldn’t assume a “prominent role” in the campaign, yet became one of its most visible proponents.

When questioned by Osborne about potentially deceiving Cameron, Gove refuted any betrayal but conceded, “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.”

Gove acknowledged that he “went further” than anticipated in the campaign, finding himself in the forefront of television debates and political discussions as a Vote Leave spokesperson.

Balls inquired whether Cummings’s influence contributed to Gove’s deeper involvement than initially expected. Gove admitted, “Yes,” recalling how Cummings used the threat of Nigel Farage taking a leading role and an appeal to not disappoint longtime colleagues to persuade him.

Unlike Osborne, who stayed awake to witness the referendum outcome, Gove learned of the Leave victory from his wife the following morning, leading to a sleepless night contemplating the implications for his country and career.

Reflecting on the aftermath, Gove described it as “the most traumatic day of my life,” foreseeing the detrimental impact on his political journey.

The fallout from the Brexit campaign marked the end of a close friendship between Cameron and Gove, stemming from Gove’s prominent opposition.

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