Gove 'used Vote Leave data firm in secret bid to be PM'

The Tory leadership rift between Michael Gove and Boris Johnson was dramatically reignited last night by fresh claims about an alleged plot to ‘fix’ Brexit.

A whistleblower claimed that work had started on Mr Gove’s leadership campaign in June 2016 before the Cabinet Minister’s shock decision to knife Mr Johnson and run for leader himself.

The new allegations are made by Christopher Wylie, who has been at the centre of the global storm over claimed links between Facebook, secret data firms and the Brexit vote.

Electoral chiefs are investigating allegations that Mr Gove’s Vote Leave tried to dodge spending limits by paying money to a linked pro-Brexit group, which was then channelled to a Canadian company called AggregateIQ (AIQ).

The Tory leadership rift between Michael Gove and Boris Johnson (pictured the morning after the EU referendum) was reignited last night by fresh claims about an alleged plot to ‘fix’ Brexit

Mr Wylie claims:

AIQ had started to build Mr Gove’s campaign website in June 2016 while he was still publicly backing Mr Johnson; Mr Gove must have been aware of the controversial £625,000 donation to BeLeave, a supposedly separate wing of the campaign.

Last night Mr Gove categorically denied that any work had been carried out on the website before he made his leadership announcement – or that he had any knowledge of the donation to BeLeave.

The suggestion that Mr Gove was already at work on his campaign before his announcement on June 30 will shock Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson, who only found out about Mr Gove’s betrayal two hours before he launched his own bid.

Mr Gove said he had ‘come, reluctantly, to the conclusion that Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead’.

Mr Johnson’s allies described Mr Gove’s behaviour as ‘utter treachery’, and said they suspected he had intended all along to use the popular Mr Johnson to win the referendum vote before ambushing him at the last moment – described as the ‘cuckoo nest plot’.

One said at the time: ‘Gove is a **** who set this up from the start.’

Tory MP Nick Boles played a key role in the U-turn, switching his support from Mr Johnson to Mr Gove in the hours before Mr Gove’s bombshell announcement. It was Mr Boles, as Mr Gove’s campaign manager, who put through a payment of £2,720 to AIQ to pay for the website.

Electoral chiefs are investigating allegations that Vote Leave tried to dodge spending limits by paying money to a linked pro-Brexit group, which was then channelled to a Canadian company called AggregateIQ (AIQ)

Electoral chiefs are investigating allegations that Vote Leave tried to dodge spending limits by paying money to a linked pro-Brexit group, which was then channelled to a Canadian company called AggregateIQ (AIQ)

AIQ was paid almost £4 million by Vote Leave to run their social media campaign before also building Mr Gove’s website. The Electoral Commission is investigating whether the donation to BeLeave, run by 23-year-old student Darren Grimes, was an attempt to dodge limits on campaign spending.

Mr Wylie, who exposed the data firm Cambridge Analytica’s plundering of private details from Facebook – and has also alleged close links between AIQ and Cambridge Analytica – told The Mail on Sunday last night that the Gove campaign website, which launched on July 1, would have needed several more days’ work on it in advance.

He said: ‘Michael Gove’s website was being worked on by an AIQ employee on June 30, but it would take a couple of days [before then] to set up a website like this.’

Mr Wylie said: ‘Michael Gove was co-convenor of the Vote Leave Campaign Committee which ran everything and met daily, and this was the single largest expenditure of the campaign. So do you think that committee would not discuss the largest single expenditure? Gove saw Darren in the office all the time, so it looks suspicious to me.’

Mr Wylie added: ‘The donation to BeLeave went to the same company [AIQ] which then built Gove’s campaign website.’

Last night a source in Mr Johnson’s camp said: ‘We always thought that

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