- David Cameron’s memoir – published today – savages Michael Gove over Brexit
- But he now says ‘a lot of water has flown under the bridge’ since the pair fell out
- He said he was moved by a heartfelt Mail article by Mr Gove’s wife Sarah Vine
- Gove admits that Cameron believed he would put friendship before Brexit
David Cameron today extends an olive branch to Michael Gove, saying he wants to try to rekindle the close friendship that was blown apart by Brexit.
In his autobiography, which is published today, the former prime minister savages Mr Gove for his decision to back the Leave campaign in 2016 which finished his career in No 10.
But Mr Cameron now says ‘a lot of water has flown under the bridge’ since the pair’s spectacular public fallout.
But in an interview to be broadcast on radio station LBC today, he also hits out at the Left-wing Guardian newspaper for a controversial editorial this week which claimed the anguish of his son Ivan’s death had been softened by his privileged background. In his autobiography, For the Record, Mr Cameron accuses Mr Gove of betrayal. He said he was shocked by the ‘ferocity and mendacity’ of his attacks on the Government during the campaign, accusing him of becoming ‘an ambassador for the post-truth age’.
The row severed a close friendship between the Gove and Cameron families which extended well beyond politics and saw the two families share the school run and holiday together.
But Mr Cameron suggests he is ready to bury the hatchet with his former friend.
He says he was moved by a heartfelt article by Mr Gove’s wife, Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine, in which she lamented the breakdown of a 20-year friendship between the two families. Writing in the Mail yesterday, she described how the two families had shared their lives together for two decades, but had not spoken since Brexit tore them apart in February 2016.
Miss Vine, godmother to the Camerons’ daughter Florence, describes them as ‘dear friends who were there at key moments of my life’. She added: ‘Hard as these past few years have been, nothing will ever erase those memories. Because that is what really matters: people. Not politics, not power, not Brexit.
‘We make mistakes and we move on. Or at least we should try.’
Asked about her comments, Mr Cameron says: ‘I was coming back from my book launch with Samantha and it popped up on my screen, and we both read it, and we both actually thought it was incredibly sensitive and well written and rather emotional piece.
‘Look, over time I hope that – a lot of water has flown under the bridge – but it just was very difficult at the time of the referendum.’
Asked if he would like to rekindle the relationship, he replied: ‘I want to try. I think the difficulty has just been that, Michael was a very, very close member of the team. He was so central to my thinking on education reform and other things, and so watching what happened next was very painful and I did in some ways thought he’d become quite a different person in all of it. But as I say, life goes on.’
In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Cameron also dismisses a controversial attack on him by the Guardian. In an editorial, for which it has since apologised, the newspaper claimed he had suffered only ‘privileged pain’ over the death of his disabled son Ivan. The newspaper questioned whether the former PM ‘might have understood the damage his policies have done’ if he had sought care for ‘a dying parent rather than a dying child’.
It went on: ‘Mr Cameron has known pain and failure in his life but it has always been limited failure and privileged pain.
‘His experience of the NHS, which looked after his severely disabled son, has been that of the better functioning and better funded parts of the system.’
Mr Cameron said: ‘There is no privilege in holding your eldest-born child in your arms as their life drains away. Death knows no privilege. So I, from the little I saw of it, I couldn’t understand what they were trying to say, but fortunately it has been deleted and apologised for, so I think we can leave it there.’
Mr Cameron also hits out at Commons Speaker John Bercow, who has been a constant thorn in the side of the Government over Brexit. ‘There were times, I have to admit, when I… sort of got out of bed every morning and thought, whatever John Bercow, whatever the speaker can do to make my life hell today, he will do. And that, on the whole, was a pretty good guide to life.’
Mr Cameron also speaks of his remorse over his handling of the referendum and the EU negotiation that preceded it, saying: ‘I’ll go to my grave wondering, could I have got more in the negotiation?’
But he refuses to rule out a second referendum, saying: ‘I don’t think you can because we can’t go on being stuck. We’ve had a three-year hiatus and it’s very painful for the country and difficult for business and difficult for people and I feel it very intensely.
‘We can’t go on like this so we’ve got to have either a deal, another deal, an election or a referendum.’