Related video: Manchester mayor Andy Burnham makes plea to PM on HS2
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Michael Gove has said he apologised “a long time ago” to Boris Johnson after the pair fell out when they ran for the leadership of the Tory party, as the first day of the party’s conference came to a close.
Asked whether he had said sorry for “knifing” the former prime minister, Gove told GB News: “I think a long time ago, yes.”
Gove said Johnson had “massive gifts” but “made some mistakes”, adding: “I had the opportunity to talk to him at a social event a wee while ago – but he’s now a private citizen, so that’s a private conversation.”
Elsewhere, the chairman of the Conservative party Greg Hands says the party will be the ‘underdogs’ to win the next election in his Tory Conference speech on Sunday.
Mr Hands said: “Rishi Sunak is the right man to steer this country through extremely challenging times.”
His confident speech came hours after Sunak told Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg he would prioritise halving inflation over cutting taxes – sparking rows within the party as senior MPs called on the prime minister to reduce the burden ahead of the next national poll.
James Cleverly, speaking at the Onward fringe event, suggested that “activist judges” whether in the UK or in Strasbourg could always frustrate Government policy.
The Foreign Secretary said: “I get the frustration with sometimes activist judges. I would purely make the observation that just as France makes fantastic wine, but increasingly now we make some brilliant wine, so a lot of things that are wonderful overseas, we are able to produce here in the UK.
“And left-wing activist judges, we’ve got quite a few of those in the UK. And so one of the points I make is that as a government you have to deal with the judicial system and, were it not the ECHR, I’m sure we would have domestic judges that were trying to prevent us discharging our duty to British people. We have to deal with that.”
He added: “A lot of the institution, a lot of the agreements, that were put in place in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War are in many instances now 70-plus years old, and we need to make sure that they remain relevant to the modern world.”
He said that the UK could deal with people smugglers and “break the model without necessarily needing to leave the ECHR”.
Gove and Badenoch back option of quitting European Convention on Human Rights
Cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Kemi Badenoch have backed keeping open the option of leaving the European Convention on Human Rights as they struggle to curb unauthorised Channel crossings.
But there were signs of Cabinet divisions on Sunday as security minister Tom Tugendhat questioned that such a move could create problems for the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).
Mr Gove, the Levelling Up Secretary, also called for pre-election tax cuts amid speculation that leading figures were jostling for the support of the Tory right in case of a future leadership contest.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman has made threats about the ECHR as her Rwanda asylum policy remains stalled in the courts following legal challenges.
Ms Badenoch, the Business Secretary, told the Sunday Times that leaving the ECHR is “definitely something that needs to be on the table”.
Mr Gove, who supported Ms Badenoch in the Tory leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson, said they should “keep every option open” when asked at the Conservative conference in Manchester.
He declined to go further and say whether he actually supported leaving the convention when pressed at the event for the Onward think tank.
On the same panel, Mr Tugendhat said he is “always happy to listen to ideas” but added “I like to have the solutions that go along with them” particularly raising concerns about the Northern Ireland peace treaty, which incorporates the ECHR.
“What is the alternative for the GFA, for the devolved assemblies and administrations, what does it mean for the various different agreements we’ve struck already that are underpinned by it?” the security minister asked.
Sunak faces open revolt over refusal to back tax cuts
Rishi Sunak will attempt to get back on the front foot with a benefits crackdown after a torrid first day of his annual party conference in which he came under pressure from senior Conservatives over tax cuts and HS2.
After an unhelpful intervention from senior cabinet minister Michael Gove – who said he wanted taxes to come down before the election – the PM was forced to resist calls to pledge pre-poll giveaways.
He also faced fresh calls to commit to the northern leg of HS2 from his own former levelling up minister, who quit the department just last month, and the former Tory party chairman.
Dame Priti Patel has described Suella Braverman’s controversial immigration speech as an attempt to draw “dividing lines” and “get attention” ahead of the next general election, Archie Mitchell reports.
The former home secretary accused her successor of making “interventions” that are not “a substitute for delivery”.
And Ms Patel warned ministers the public are “sick” or hearing about issues such as illegal immigration and the government’s “failure to deliver”.
“I think it’s right that everyone puts shoulder to the wheel and cracks on and does the work,” she added.
Her comments came after Ms Braverman faced a furious backlash for a speech in the US on immigration in which she claimed that fearing persecution over being gay or a woman is not enough to claim asylum.
Welsh Secretary calls for independent inquiry into health board
Welsh Secretary David TC Davies has called for an independent inquiry into Wales’ biggest health board.
The Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board was put into special measures earlier this year.
Speaking to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Sunday, Mr Davies said: “It’s absolutely vital that confidence in Welsh health boards is restored, which is why we call today on the Welsh Labour Government to launch an independent inquiry to uncover the many drastic failures (of) the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.”
The health board provides NHS services in North Wales.
The whole board was removed earlier this year, with Wales’ health and social services minister Eluned Morgan raising “serious concerns about performance, leadership and culture”.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The Minister for Health and Social Services took the decision to place Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board into special measures in February this year, following serious concerns about governance, finance, performance and quality.
“Following this decision a number of reviews have been undertaken and a new leadership team including an interim chair, chief executive and independent members has been established.
“It is important to support this team to make the necessary changes to the organisation and improve the delivery of care to the people of north Wales. An inquiry would divert resources and attention away from this.”