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.


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.


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".

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  • rate this

    Comment number 410.

    Can we have some informed debate representing the spectrum of interests connected with EU membership rather than just the right wing agenda trotted out relentlessly?

    Surely you have to be more even handed on this issue BBC rather than following the telegraph!

  • rate this

    Comment number 409.

    I find it incredulous that a government will not vote for its own legislative agenda days after the Queen announced it. It is barmy and just reinforces the opinion that this government is by far and away the most incompetent government Britain has ever had.

  • rate this

    Comment number 408.

    Politicians on both sides of the debate are letting us down by exaggerating the case for or against EU membership. All of our politicians have a duty to take a deep breath, pack away the Union Jack underpants and have a sensible debate about whether the UK's long-term economic interests are best served by remaining in the EU, or leaving it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 407.

    You speak as if we've been invaded - it was an elected government and public vote that got us in the Union.

    Not quite right, we voted for the EEC, but we have not been allowed a referendum about joining the European Union

  • rate this

    Comment number 406.

    I support the idea of a larger, unified europe. If only because it stops dangerous idiots like gove having any real power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 405.

    "But he said the best course was to follow David Cameron's plan to renegotiate powers and "lead" the change Europe needed.

    And then to put the in/out question to the public in a referendum"

    Merkel and a lot of people on the continent are totally obsessed with European integration. It has to be seen to be believed.

    There is no chance of a worthwhile renegotiation.

    Leave NOW!

  • rate this

    Comment number 404.

    So what? A large minority or maybe even the majority of the population of this country have been crying out for a referendum ever since the EEC turned into the EU, but have been repeatedly ignored/called racists by successive governments who had previously promised referendums. Now we're supposed to care about Gove's opinion?

    These people are supposed to serve us, not rule over us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 403.

    None of the 3 old partys will ever give the public an in out vote they have too many vested interests in keeping us in regardless of public opinoin.
    Dont trust Mr cameron he knows he wont be the PM in 2017 and Labour are even more pro Europe and they probably will be in power.
    This is why i voted and will always vote UKIP the only party talking any sense on europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 402.

    381- have to agree with you there- scotland is currently run by idiots and, let's face it, on the EU Alex Salmond has more positions than the kama sutra!

  • rate this

    Comment number 401.

    What is so frightening about a federal Europe? How about the complete absence of real democracy in such a structure. The complete loss of economic and political sovereignty being a part of it would inevitably entail. For the UK it would be an enormous hostage to fortune as the likes of Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and even France as now only just finding out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 400.

    I'd like to vote for Michael Goves exit from the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 399.

    ...of course we could leave the EU but retain commercial ties with it without being a member just like Switzerland and Norway. The British press would then have a right to have a field day as we would have to comply with most EU regulations but we would have absolutely no say whatsoever in the framing of them or decision making (observer status). That will be SO much better for the UK, won't it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 398.

    I have little interest in the bleatings of politicians generally, the public have been denied ( after promises of election on the UK's continuation in the farce we call the European Union for so long) We entered into a treaty which is now defunct before I was eligible to vote and I am now 50. So, join the queue Grove, may you wait as patiently as the rest of us because it is never going to happen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 397.

    I don't think you know much about IQ/IQ measurement. Even if the results were true, & the University link doesnt mean it is, I could drive a coach & horses through them on a wide range of contributing variables

    With a lot of help from the pop - i.e. people like you. I've yet to see any sign that they or you have learned anything so change for the better seems unlikely

  • rate this

    Comment number 396.

    The more that high profile politicians signal a desire to vote for an exit from the EU the more it is likely to happen. UKIP will probably be vindicated but the fight will get nasty. The EU bosses will wish to defend the bits of their curate's egg that they portray as representing the whole. Will truth determine whether the bad bits are ever revealed, like the lack of audited accounts?

  • rate this

    Comment number 395.

    Why can't he just quit?

  • rate this

    Comment number 394.

    Another Tory afraid of losing his seat to UKIP. This is not an issue that should be put to a referendum in the first place . You can't trust most of the electorate, who have been brainwashed by anti-European media, to take a decision in favour of leaving. Britain is not in a possission like Norway or Switzerland, who can afford not to be in the EU.

  • rate this

    Comment number 393.

    258. cooper123

    "Absolute joke..... who actually voted for this guy?????"

    The sheep who live in his Surrey Heath constituency.

  • rate this

    Comment number 392.

    The chances of the referendum actually happening are virtually nil. Firstly DC has to be re-elected, which does not seem very likely at the moment. Secondly, between now and then there is plenty of wriggle room as happened with the Lisbon treaty go-around. Politicians hate referendums and will walk a mile in tight boots to avoid them

  • Comment number 391.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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