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".

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

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  • rate this

    Comment number 890.

    Why people think that leaving the EU would automatically mean that all workers' rights would go beats me, as at the moment such laws that are passed by the EU needs OUR parliament to ratify them onto OUR statute book, which it usually does but with extra (often stronger) requirements. The idea that 'holiday pay etc' would go is complete rubbish and just plain scaremongering.

  • rate this

    Comment number 889.

    If Cameron renegotiates Britain's relationship with the EU he will want to sign out of all the civilizing bits - employment rights, free movement of people, judicial co-operation, and so forth. What his paymasters (who own the media) want is to make Britain into an offshore sweat-shop with no rights for workers. That's why they invent 'health tourism' and other smears.

  • rate this

    Comment number 888.

    Could someone (Mr Gove, for instance) explain exactly in what way leaving the EU would help the UK? Opposition to the EU seems to be based on the nonsense published in newspapers. What is the UK afraid of?

  • rate this

    Comment number 887.

    32 David Kirkham
    Does Mr Gove really believe that American corps invest here simply because Britain is a jolly good place?
    Mr Gove isnt so daft as to say something that he doesnt believe nor is untrue.

    The opinion to leave the EU is now mainstream.

    No need to be in the EU to export there. The USA's biggest export market is the EU & they arent in the EU!

    They invest here as we speak English!

  • rate this

    Comment number 886.

    The main reason why Gove and other very right wing Tories want to leave the EU is probably because they want to opt out of social and employment laws, and give workers less rights and low pay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 885.

    Why all of a sudden the BBC writes every day about this, that and that politician having the "feeling they should leave the EU"?

    I cannot help noticing that this all has started the instant the EU has touched the banks.

    I would like some hard facts, from all sides, rather than feelings. Otherwise, it is just a most unwelcome psychological game, with the potential of creating some major damage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 884.

    Want to know how to vote?

    Look at America, millions striving for European rights, even in the face of economic problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 883.

    859"Is this the US who turned up 2½ years late for WW11 & stiffed us to the roof for loans."

    Tell me where I can get a 50 year 2% mortgage, I want one just like the UK got from the US.It was made that generous because nobody knew how long it would take Britain to recover.Late for WWII?US owes UK NOTHING.We didn't have to fight at all.

    UK can never be a US state.It isn't fit for purpose.

  • rate this

    Comment number 882.

    No suprise on the bbc that all the editors picks are mostly pro eu.

    Personally I can't see the advantages and think the money from our membership could be spent within the country to better effect.

    Why do we need a parliament in Europe aswell as in all the nations?

    Why can't the leaders of the European nations agree on things without this extra burden on the tax payers?

    The eu is a parasite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 881.

    What on earth is the "where the UK trades" supposed to tell us? It says nothing about how much we spend on imports and the mark up in the UK which adds to income, the number of jobs involved with exports or financial implications. In fact going by the graph other, Middle East and Africa and the USA are best as with all others we either lose out or balance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 880.

    Gove is a dreadful old fashioned 1930's style politician, his very appearance makes me squirm. If he becomes leader of the Conservatives they will be consigned to oblivion...

  • rate this

    Comment number 879.

    All the lefties out in force on this one. We must vote UKIP to ensure a referendum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 878.

    Master stroke by Cameron here.

    Get an unpopular Minister with whom the General Public vehemently disagree with on every one of his opinions.

    Then get him to say he'll vote to come out of the EU.

    Hey presto ! Everyone will disagree with him and think it must be the right decision therefore to stay in the EU !

    Genius !

  • rate this

    Comment number 877.

    Little Englanders rule. If only they realised how little they are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 876.

    I would like to hear from some big name politians the advantages of staying in the EU. To me the avantages are a single trading entity, laws restricting hours of employment, stops exploitation. A single currency saves on exchange losses. Yes there are problems but be a powerful voice promoting it then we can help stop silly EU rules

  • rate this

    Comment number 875.

    Then we can kick all the foreign workers out and give work to our millions of unemployed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 874.

    The only people the EU have benefited is greedy business. Immigrations has kept wages down and allowed no investment in training our youth up.

    It's caused house prices to go up and British people struggle to get on the housing ladder.

    Caused rents to go up and turned areas into ghettos.

    The EU is nothing more than a money maker for landlords and business and attacks the working class.

  • rate this

    Comment number 873.

    So he would vote to leave today buts says that the best approach is to follow Cameron's plan to renegotiate powers. Talk about 'double-speak'! The British Establishment clearly has no intention of leaving Europe and all the Tories are doing is trying to keep us in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 872.

    Reality Check

    If the UK were to leave the EU We would have to Join the EEA to avoid complete economic meltdown and the possible repatriation of 2 million UK citizens including 1.5 Million Pensioners.

    As such we would have to comply with ALL EU Regulations including Schengen (Which we don't now)
    Pay 80% as much to the EU as now

    Have NO say on EU Policies at all.

    Good plan Michael

  • rate this

    Comment number 871.


    Agreed - we all needed a collective firework up our - - - - -.


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