Michael Gove and Philip Hammond would vote for Britain to leave the EU

 

Philip Hammond: 'I'm on the side of the argument that Michael Gove has put forward'

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Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has become the second cabinet minister to say he would vote for Britain to leave the EU if a referendum were held now.

But, like education secretary Michael Gove, he said David Cameron must be given a chance to bring powers back from Brussels before deciding.

Mr Hammond told BBC Radio 5live it would be "defeatist" to leave the EU without attempting reform.

Mr Cameron has pledged to hold a referendum in 2017.

"If the choice is between a European Union written exactly as it is today and not being a part of that then I have to say that I'm on the side of the argument that Michael Gove has put forward," said Mr Hammond in an interview on Radio 5live's Pienaar's politics.

Earlier, Mr Gove became the most senior Conservative to date to publicly contemplate backing Britain's exit from the EU, although "friends" of the cabinet minister have previously told a newspaper that is where he stands.

'Letting off steam'

Start Quote

I believe that we have to negotiate a better solution that works better for Britain if we are going to stay in and play a part in the European Union in the future.”

End Quote Phillip Hammond Defence secretary

"I am not happy with our position in the European Union but my preference is for a change in Britain's relationship with the European Union," said Mr Gove.

"Life outside would be perfectly tolerable, we could contemplate it, there would be certain advantages."

Tory backbenchers have tabled an amendment to the motion welcoming the Queen's Speech regretting the absence of legislation paving the way for a referendum in the government's plans for the year ahead.

Mr Gove described this as "letting off steam".

And he said he planned to abstain if there was a Commons vote on the amendment.

"My own view is let the prime minister lay out our negotiating strategy, make sure he has a majority, which I am convinced he will secure at the next election, and let's have the referendum then."

Home Secretary Theresa May also said she would abstain in the Commons vote, which will be held on Tuesday or Wednesday if it is called by Speaker John Bercow.

Mr Hammond said: "I believe that we have to negotiate a better solution that works better for Britain if we are going to stay in and play a part in the European Union in the future, but let me be absolutely clear: I think it is defeatist to sort of say we want to leave the European Union.

Analysis

Michael Gove managed to flash a saucy amount of Eurosceptic leg, , whilst simultaneously promising to do as he is told and abstain, if there is a vote demanding that the government introduce legislation guaranteeing a referendum.

For years, Mr Gove has been a strident critic of the European Union - and the UK's current relationship with it.

But his remarks are indicative of a broader trend. The centre of gravity within the Conservative Party at Westminster on the issue of Europe has shifted from where it was 20 years ago.

The Sunday Telegraph's headline today, "Tories in Europe turmoil", could very easily have appeared in countless editions of the paper over the past two decades.

But being openly Eurosceptic, and willing to consider withdrawal from the EU if negotiations with Brussels are deemed insufficient, is now a mainstream view among Conservative MPs.

There are far, far fewer keepers of the European flame on the Tory benches than there used to be and those keepers tend to keep their heads down.

"We should say no, this is a club that we are members of, and before we talk about leaving it, first of all we're going to try and change the rules and change the way it works and change the objectives that it has in order to make it something that works for Britain."

Unusual step

David Cameron has promised an in/out referendum in 2017 - if the Conservatives win the next election.

A group of Conservative backbenchers, led by John Baron, have been campaigning for him to firm up this commitment by legislating in the current Parliament for a referendum.

The rebel MPs wanted the legislation to be included in last week's Queen's Speech setting out the government's plans for the year ahead.

Mr Cameron has said he was prevented from doing so by the Lib Dems.

So the rebels have taken the unusual step of tabling an amendment to the Queen's Speech debate, raising the prospect of government MPs voting against their own programme. It is thought about 100 backbench MPs could do so.

The amendment, tabled by Mr Baron and fellow Eurosceptic Peter Bone, expresses regret that the government has not announced an EU referendum bill.

It is highly unlikely to be passed, as Labour, the Lib Dems and many Conservatives will vote against it or abstain but Mr Baron has said it will keep the issue in the spotlight.

'Destabilising'

The furore has been seized on by Labour as a sign that Mr Cameron has lost control of his party.

Start Quote

I don't think we should set our face against consulting the British people”

End Quote Ed Balls Shadow Chancellor

The Conservatives say Mr Miliband is unwilling to give the public a say on a vital issue.

Speaking on Sky's Murnaghan programme, shadow chancellor Ed Balls said: "I don't think we should set our face against consulting the British people."

He said Labour would back a referendum if there was "any proposal to change the powers between Britain and the European Union which would take powers away from Britain".

But he said the party would not make a commitment to a referendum at a time when there was a push to reform the EU as it would be "destabilising" and not "statesmanlike".

Pie charts showing UK trade with the EU and other parts of the world
 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 390.

    @362.Brian
    "We already had a referendum in 1974.We voted to stay in by a 67% majority on a high turnout."
    That was nearly forty years ago when we were led to believe that it was a trading agreement.NOT a mandate for the United States of Europe,run by Brussels,

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 389.

    The EU has shown clever manipulation by Common Purpose/establishment. The left are told the EU enshrines the rights of workers, the Greens it protects the environment and the right that it makes it easier to outsource to cheaper labour markets. None of which is wholly true. As a result these posts show Left and Right wing insults and miss the reality of the EU not truly delivering for anyone.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 388.

    Over the last 30 years we have cheered as country after country have gained independence from super states...but all the while we are becoming part of one through the back door.

    It will never last - better to end it peacefully now than put our grandchildren through yet more war and conflict

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 387.

    @344.Harry Lime

    Who is going to explain to me why a federal europe is such a bad thing?
    /////

    Google "Democracy" Harry.

    @9.Havoc

    Europe fights for the rights of the common man.
    ////

    The Cypriots, Greeks, Spanish, Portuguese & Irish disagree.

    @131.malcsplace

    If Gove says leave, then the correct answer must be stay.

    ////

    I can see you've given this a lot of thought!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 386.

    @362 Brian you muppet! That was not to stay in that was to go in for the first time....The French prior to that were trying their best to ensure we did not enter the union all thanks to De Gaul the ungrateful French git....

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 385.

    I can't take seriously anyone who looks like a ventriloquist's dummy.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 384.

    359. merryMikemichaelson
    "....to stop us becoming part of a European superstate controlled by the Germans, so we must not let that happen by the back door"

    Because the Germans have made such a mess of everything haven't they?
    Oh, hang on......

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 383.

    Still scared of losing precious votes to UKIP at the next election then Mr Gove? Are we still 'all in this together' or do you also 'blame the last Labour government' for our powers being surrendered to the EU?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 382.

    @354 The rich elite want us in the EU because the mass immigration that comes with it keeps wages low.As we have seen in France to much regulation is bad for jobs, I've opted out of the EU working time directive because it was limiting my ability to earn a decent living,I'm a hgv driver and the EU has been a disaster for us,builders and factory workers,we need out as soon as possible

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 381.

    Thank god we have some other idiots ruling the roost up here in Scotland.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 380.

    The UK hasn't been a particularly forceful player in the EU due to its continuous waffling. If the UK withdraws it will inevitably become dependent on the US for its long-term economic survival since no country and certainly no island can survive outside a major trading block. Good luck with that.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 379.

    338 stephenruss

    "This country has finite land and resources yet our population will be bigger than Germany's in 2050!"

    Last time I looked Germany also has finite land and resources - it also has more migrants than we have. To read this xenophobic sceptic rubbish you'd think the UK was the only country that had immigrants!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 378.

    ukstudent
    "....if you didn't understand this, you should've learned what a common market was before you voted. Voters pay for their ignorance"

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    What an arrogant statement. Anyway, I was four years old at the time of the last referendum on Europe so have never had chance to vote...

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 377.

    I would certainly vote for Gove...... to leave the EU, to leave politics, quite frankly to leave the country!

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 376.

    of course he would - he's an idiot

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 375.

    Who to turn to for wise judgement and advise? to experts!

    Economists, who ONLY prevaricate over hindsight.
    Tories, where poor decisions never impact on them, personally.
    UKIP, who ARE a bunch of clowns, supported, by other clowns.
    Lib Dems, were well meaning, now unprincipled buffoons.
    Labour, just waiting. I don't think even they know quite what for.

    Who to believe.....?

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 374.

    Comments such as the EU is dominated by Germany and 'do we want to be ruled by a German' just depressing. Britain is historically and geographically part of the continent of Europe and should be playing a leading part in its future not talking about leaving the EU. What is so frightening about a federal Europe in any case? A much more INFORMED debate is needed, not UKIP soundbites.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 373.

    These people are playing with people jobs. I don't like what the EU stands for but the company I work for will leave the UK faster than Lewis Hamilton if we leave the EU and mine and thousends of other jobs will go with it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 372.

    @347. Igor

    (Russia as a role model for a desirable EU relationship)

    Excellent idea... just need to make or mine something that continental Europe really needs (along the lines of natural gas) so that our voices have to be heard even when coming from 'the outside'... not sure the 'banking service industry' really counts.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 371.

    The EU has doubtless many faults - but quite apart from the fact that is helped to maintain peace and prosperity in Europe tens of thousands of UK citizens are in jobs dependent on our membership.
    ---
    Nato troops, the people of Greece,Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and all those British workers who have been replaced by Poles would beg to differ.

 

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