Gove scuppered the Foreign Secretary’s chances of becoming prime minister last year by standing against him in the Tory leadership campaign.
Backbenchers believe that Mr Gove’s chances of replacing Theresa May have been improved after Mr Johnson mistakenly claimed Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, the British mother jailed in Iran, was training journalists in the country.
She now faces a longer jail sentence. One Tory MP said: “The more mistakes Boris makes, the more vindicated Michael becomes for standing against him.
“While no one has forgotten how treacherous he was, they also remember he did it because he didn’t think Boris was enough of a details man to be PM.
“All this bungling is proving Michael right.”
Another backbencher said: “People don’t forget that easily but I think the wind is changing around Michael. He just needs to bide his time. He has been working the Conservative Associations and quietly going about his business.”
Since his shock return to the Cabinet, Mr Gove has announced a series of environmental measures that have curried favour with the so-called progressives.
One MP added: “All the backbenchers want is a leader who can beat Jeremy Corbyn.
“Michael has certainly got the cerebral qualities required of a PM – and of course he is a genuine Brexiteer.”