Michael Gove insists ‘I’ve not gone soft on Brexit’ after Tory voters punish party over EU withdrawal chaos but says hardliners need to ‘face facts’ and accept they can’t get a No Deal
- Environment Secretary remains opposed to a customs union which would rule out Britain’s ability to strike trade deals after Brexit
- But he said there was no ‘arithmetic’ in the House of Commons for No Deal
- The Tories lost 1,300 seats after furious voters punished the party over Brexit
Michael Gove has insisted that he has not ‘gone soft’ on Brexit after voters punished the Conservatives in the Local Elections – but added that Brexiteers need to ‘face facts’ over No Deal.
The Environment Secretary said that he is opposed to the prospect of a customs union but said that there is no ‘arithmetic’ in the House of Commons for Britain to leave the EU without a deal.
The former leader of the Vote Leave campaign was speaking at his parents’ home following the disastrous results in the local elections, in which the Conservative Party lost 1,300 seats after furious voters punished the party for its Brexit failures.
Michael Gove has insisted that he has not ‘gone soft’ on Brexit after voters punished the Conservatives in the Local Elections – but added that Brexiteers need to ‘face facts’ over No Deal
He said in an interview with The Telegraph at his parents’ home in Aberdeen that he had not ‘gone soft’ on Brexit, but instead said that the country and his party had to ‘face facts’.
‘At the moment the arithmetic in the House of Commons is opposed to leaving without a deal,’ he said.
‘There would be economic challenges. We could get through them but they would undoubtedly be there in the short term.’
Mr Gove added that leaving without a deal would ‘undermine the Union’ and that the best way of ‘bringing the country together is to leave with a good deal’.
The former leader of the Vote Leave campaign was speaking at his parents’ home following the disastrous results in the local elections, in which the Conservative Party lost 1,300 seats after furious voters punished the party for its Brexit failures
Outlining his opposition to a customs union, Mr Gove said that he wanted Britain to have an ‘independent trade policy’ and that the best way to secure it was to ‘get the Withdrawal Bill’ through and persuade Labour ‘of the merits’ of it.
The Brexiteer also said he had learned from his failed 2016 Tory leadership campaign, in which he dramatically withdrew his support for Boris Johnson’s bid before announcing his own candidature, saying that he is now part of a team.
However, he refused to confirm or deny whether he intends to stand in the contest to succeed Theresa May, but said that his conduct since being made Environment Secretary showed that he is trustworthy.
He said that the local council results, in which Labour lost seats in areas which had voted strongly for Leave in the referendum, showed that Jeremy Corbyn should help the Government pass a deal and ditch any prospect of a second referendum.
Despite his own party’s disastrous results, Mr Gove said that Labour should have done ‘much better’ in the elections after nine years of Conservatives’ in power.
‘I hope they will recognise that they need to work with the Government in order to deliver Brexit,’ he said.
The father-of-two has become a leading Cabinet figure again after many accused him of ‘treachery’ over the way in which he brutally torpedoed Boris Johnson’s chances of becoming Tory leader in 2016.
Since then, he said the pair had ‘worked well’ on issues such as the ‘Brexit strategy’ and the illegal wildlife trade.
The results left the two-party system at breaking point and the Conservatives lost 1,335 seats
Mr Gove refused to confirm or deny whether he intends to stand in the contest to succeed Theresa May. Mrs May said he had been expecting a ‘difficult election’ and admitted that Brexit was an ‘added dimension’ to the results
He added that Johnson remained ‘a friend’ who he held in ‘enormously high regard’.
The Surrey Heath MP was at his parents’ home in Scotland ahead of his keynote speech to the Scottish Conservative Conference today, in which he is expected to pay tribute to Ruth Davidson’s leadership.
He was born in Edinburgh but adopted by Ernest and Christine Gove when he was just four months old.
The couple, now aged 82 and 79 respectively, live in the same house in which Gove grew up in from the age of eight.
Following the disastrous results yesterday, Theresa May claimed she had been expecting a ‘difficult election’ and admitted Brexit was ‘an added dimension’ to that result.
‘There was a simple message from yesterday’s elections to both us and the Labour Party: just get on and deliver Brexit,’ Mrs May said.
‘This is a difficult time for our party and these election results are a symptom of that,’ Mrs May told the Welsh Conservative Conference.
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