Michael Gove sacked ‘for disloyalty’: allies reveal how it happened

Michael Gove was sacked by Boris Johnson on Wednesday evening after telling the prime minister to quit earlier in the day.

Allies confirmed the levelling up secretary had been dismissed after a delegation of cabinet ministers told Johnson he should resign.

Gove was not among them, but had met the prime minister on Wednesday morning and urged him to resign, telling him the party would not support him.

Gove told Johnson he would not stand against him as party leader and was not part of a leadership bid. His sacking followed the resignation of cabinet ministers Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javid as well as more than 40 other junior ministers and parliamentary aides.

No 10 sources have been briefing against Gove for weeks, believing he was behind negative quotes in the media about Johnson. One very senior aide to Johnson said several weeks ago that they thought Gove was plotting the prime minister’s downfall.

Other cabinet ministers may depart in Gove’s wake. Tory sources had expected the transport secretary Grant Shapps and the Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis to resign – but they had not gone by late Wednesday evening. Johnson may yet opt to sack them.

The Welsh secretary Simon Hart announced his resignation late on Wednesday.

Johnson appeared determined to fight on, despite a delegation of senior cabinet ministers, including home secretary, Priti Patel, and Shapps, personally urging him to resign.

Shapps, who did the number crunching for Johnson’s leadership bid, is understood to have told the PM there was no way he could win a second confidence vote.

He told him he must make a more dignified exit than that, and should set his own timetable for his departure. Johnson disagreed.

Another cabinet minister among the group confirmed that Johnson had told them he had no intention of stepping down, despite haemorrhaging support throughout Wednesday.

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