London, Aug 29: A game of cricket and a barbecue following the Brexit win were among the three "criminal errors" that cost Boris Johnson the chance to be British prime minister, a new book has claimed. [Boris Johnson rules himself out of UK premiership's race]
Brexit campaign boss Michael Gove's fury at seeing his colleague relaxing with Princess Diana's brother Earl Spencer sparked one of British politics' biggest betrayals, The Sun reported, citing Andrew Gimson's new book Boris: The Adventures of Boris Johnson.
Foreign Secretary Johnson also blundered by holding a boozy barbecue at his 1.5 million pounds farmhouse the next day, and by failing to gain Tory leadership rival Andrea Leadsom's support, according to the book.
Gove, then Justice Secretary, stood shoulder to shoulder with Johnson in the battle to lead Britain out of Europe.
But he would leave Johnson's life-long ambition to be Tory leader in tatters after an extraordinary 11th-hour knifing as he made his own pitch for the top job, the report said.
In the book, acclaimed author and Tory insider Gimson pours scorn on Gove's "vanity-driven attempt to stab his friend in the back" and confirms that it was propelled by his columnist wife Sarah Vine, 49.
Gimson describes one of the most turbulent leadership contests of all time in the wake of former Prime Minister David Cameron's resignation in June.
"Within six days, Boris was destroyed by the people with whom he'd just spent six months in close alliance," he says.
Gimson's book, with accounts from key insiders, shines new light on the rampaging egos, catastrophic errors and most treacherous week in Tory Party history.
It says the relationship between the Leave figureheads crumbled hours after they publicly embraced and celebrated the 52 per cent Brexit vote on June 23.
And Gimson says Gove was enraged by Johnson's lack of focus in the days after Remain campaigner Cameron quit.
The day after the Brexit victory, Johnson went to the Althorp estate in Northants to compete in Earl Spencer's annual cricket match against the Johnson family.
"To some, this seemed a quintessentially English way to relax after the rigours of the campaign. But to others, including some Gove supporters, it showed an almost criminal lack of seriousness," Gimson says.
The following day, Johnson, 52, held his barbecue in Thame, Oxfordshire.
"Team Gove were invited to this festivity, and were appalled by what they saw as the lack of professionalism in the Boris camp," Gimson says of the Sunday bash.
Gimson also writes about Johnson's failure to gain leadership dark horse Leadsom's support. He is said to have forgotten to give her a letter promising her a Cabinet role.
Gimson says Johnson was able to make a comeback as the foreign secretary as he had been quietly in touch with Theresa May, who went on to become premier.