DONALD Trump today claimed he doesn't know Michael Gove in a public snub to the would-be next Prime Minister.
The President backed Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt for No10 but dismissed claims he wants to meet Mr Gove during his state visit.
It came after BoJo rejected an offer of a meeting from Mr Trump because he's too busy with his leadership campaign.
Asked for his thoughts on who should take over from Theresa May, the President told a press conference: "I know Boris, I think he'd do a very good job. I know Jeremy, I think he'd do a very good job. I don't know Michael."
He made Mrs May laugh when he pointed to Mr Hunt and asked, "Jeremy – would Michael do a good job?"
Mr Gove has previously interviewed Mr Trump and was a guest at his state banquet at Buckingham Palace last night.
A member of the President's team reportedly asked the Environment Secretary if he wanted to meet Mr Trump.
Last night Mr Johnson chatted to the President on the phone for 20 minutes in a "friendly and productive" call.
But he turned down an invitation to meet at the US ambassador's house later today – claiming he's focussing on Tory leadership hustings which will take place this evening.
Mr Johnson wants to send a message to MPs that he is serious about his campaign and won't be distracted by the glitz of the Trump state visit.
He told the President they would "catch up at a later date", a source said.
I don't know Michael
The news will come as a relief to No10 who feared a meeting would overshadow Theresa May's talks with Mr Trump.
Last week Mr Trump told The Sun Boris would make a good PM, saying: "I think he would be excellent."
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage is not expected to meet Mr Trump despite their long-standing friendship.
The other leadership contender holding talks with Mr Trump today is Jeremy Hunt, who took part in meetings at No10 alongside Mrs May.
His encounter with the President is a fresh boost for the Foreign Secretary as he scrambles to maintain his position in the leadership race.
Brexiteer big beast Liam Fox endorsed Mr Hunt this morning in a move which could boost his support among pro-Leave MPs.
Mr Johnson, Mr Gove and Mr Hunt are emerging as the three principle candidates with Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid, Matt Hancock, Rory Stewart and Andrea Leadsom challenging them.
Tonight's One Nation Tory hustings hosted by leading centrists such as Amber Rudd are seen as a key moment in the leadership battle.
Any candidate who secures the support of the group is well-placed to make it to the final shortlist of two contenders which goes to the party membership.
Tonight Boris, Mr Javid, Mrs Leadsom and Kit Malthouse will speak at the hustings, and tomorrow Mr Raab, Mr Hunt, Mr Gove and Mr Hancock will follow suit.
James Cleverly becomes first candidate to quit race for No10
LONGSHOT contender James Cleverly today became the first candidate to quit the Tory leadership race.
The junior Brexit Minister hit out at MPs who refused to take a "leap of faith" by skipping a generation and backing him.
Mr Cleverly was one of the least experienced candidates having only joined the Commons in 2015.
But he claimed a fresh face would find it easier to unite the party and the country than a more experienced figure such as Boris Johnson, Michael Gove or Jeremy Hunt.
Mr Cleverly said today: "I asked them to make a leap of faither, skip a generation and vote for a relatively new MP.
"It is clear that despite much support, particularly from our party's grassroots, MPs weren't comfortable with such a move and it has become clear that it is highly unlikely that I would progress to the final two candidates."
There are still a record-breaking 12 candidates vying for the leadership with the big beasts joined by outsiders such as Mark Harper, Kit Malthouse and Sam Gyimah.
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