LONDON British Agriculture Minister Michael Gove, a pro-Brexit campaigner and former rival of Prime Minister Theresa May, said he was surprised by the invitation to join her cabinet on Sunday.
"I was quite surprised, I have to say ... I genuinely didn't expect this role," Gove told Sky News.
"I am delighted to be part of the government, I am delighted to be able to support Theresa to ensure that we have a government capable of delivering on the people's wishes."
Gove's appointment as minister for environment, food and rural affairs marks a comeback for a man who tried and failed to lead the party after last year's referendum.
Gove, who led sweeping reforms when running the education and justice departments under May's predecessor David Cameron, was criticised by members of the Conservative party for killing off a leadership bid by foreign minister Boris Johnson last year when he also decided to run.
May won that contest and was appointed prime minister.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Evans)