Michael Gove decided to run for the Conservative party leadership because he believed Boris Johnson was incapable of unity the Tories and the country. The justice secretary entered the race to succeed David Cameron as party leader and prime minister after his boss resigned in the wake of Leave triumphing in the EU referendum last week.

He supported Johnson to become leader but made an eleventh-hour U-turn on Wednesday (29 June) night and decided to run himself. The announcement precipitated Johnson pulling out of the race before he had officially entered it on a momentous day in Westminster.

"I tried as hard as I could but last night, reflecting on this, I came to the conclusion that ultimately Boris could not build that team, could not provide that leadership and that unity," Gove told the BBC.

"It had to fall to someone else. As someone who had argued consistently that we should leave the European Union, and as someone who's experienced at the highest levels in the Cabinet, I felt it had to fall to me."

Gove pledged to get the best possible terms out of Brexit negotiations as he appealed to party members to get behind his campaign to beat Theresa May, Andrea Leadsom, Stephen Crabb and Liam Fox.

"I'll negotiate with toughness, and with great attention to detail to get the best possible deal for Britain. It's only when we are outside the European Union that we can at last bring those numbers under control in the way that the public want," he said.

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson
Michael Gove said Boris Johnson lacked the skills to unite and lead the countryGetty