One of the senior-most cabinet ministers in the David Cameron government on Tuesday dismissed the economic case made by chancellor George Osborne to remain in the European Union, and alleged that the pro-EU camp was treating the British public like children, unfit to be trusted.
Justice secretary Michael Gove, one of six ministers in the Brexit camp, delivered a long speech criticising the alleged “ghost stories” being spread by the pro-EU camp, and insisted that Britain would be better off outside the 28-state grouping.
He said: “(The) In campaign want us to believe that Britain is beaten and broken, that it can’t survive without the help of Jean-Claude Juncker and his Commission looking after us and if we dare to assert ourselves then all the terrors of the earth will be unleashed upon our head. It treats people like children, unfit to be trusted and easily scared by ghost stories”.
Cameron has lifted the principle of “collective responsibility”, to enable ministers to campaign for whichever side they believed in before the June 23 referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Ministers have been sparring in public on this increasingly intense campaign.
Gove said: “One of the most striking things about the debate on Britain’s future relationship with Europe is that the case for staying is couched overwhelmingly in negative and pessimistic terms, while the case for leaving is positive and optimistic.” Osborne published a 200-page analysis on Monday, seeking to demonstrate with figures, graphs and equations that Britons would be worse-off outside the EU, but critics soon picked holes in the analysis and dubbed it Osborne’s ‘dodgy dossier’.
Mentioning India three times, Gove noted that the EU, after years of trying, still does not have trade deals with the US, China or India, “but if we vote to leave, we can take control of our trade negotiations and seal those deals more quickly”. “If we vote to stay, we are not settling for the status quo - we are voting to be a hostage, locked in the boot of a car driven by others to a place and at a pace that we have no control over. In stark contrast, if we vote to leave, we take back control”, he said.