|Statement from Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Justice, on the EU Referendum
Immediate release, 20 February 2016
For weeks now I have been wrestling with the most difficult decision of my political life. But taking difficult decisions is what politicians are paid to do. No-one is forced to stand for Parliament, no-one is compelled to become a minister. If you take on those roles, which are great privileges, you also take on big responsibilities.
I was encouraged to stand for Parliament by David Cameron and he has given me the opportunity to serve in what I believe is a great, reforming Government. I think he is an outstanding Prime Minister. There is, as far as I can see, only one significant issue on which we have differed.
And that is the future of the UK in the European Union.
It pains me to have to disagree with the Prime Minister on any issue. My instinct is to support him through good times and bad.
But I cannot duck the choice which the Prime Minister has given every one of us. In a few months time we will all have the opportunity to decide whether Britain should stay in the European Union or leave. I believe our country would be freer, fairer and better off outside the EU. And if, at this moment of decision, I didn’t say what I believe I would not be true to my convictions or my country.
I don’t want to take anything away from the Prime Minister’s dedicated efforts to get a better deal for Britain. He has negotiated with courage and tenacity. But I think Britain would be stronger outside the EU.
My starting point is simple. I believe that the decisions which govern all our lives, the laws we must all obey and the taxes we must all pay should be decided by people we choose and who we can throw out if we want change. If power is to be used wisely, if we are to avoid corruption and complacency in high office, then the public must have the right to change laws and Governments at election time.
But our membership of the European Union prevents us being able to change huge swathes of law and stops us being able to choose who makes critical decisions which affect all our lives. Laws which govern citizens in this country are decided by politicians from other nations who we never elected and can’t throw out. We can take out our anger on elected representatives in Westminster but whoever is in Government in London cannot remove or reduce VAT, cannot support a steel plant through troubled times, cannot build the houses we need where they’re needed and cannot deport all the individuals who shouldn’t be in this country. I believe that needs to change. And I believe that both the lessons of our past and the shape of the future make the case for change compelling.
The ability to choose who governs us, and the freedom to change laws we do not like, were secured for us in the past by radicals and liberals who took power from unaccountable elites and placed it in the hands of the people. As a result of their efforts we developed, and exported to nations like the US, India, Canada and Australia a system of democratic self-government which has brought prosperity and peace to millions.
Our democracy stood the test of time. We showed the world what a free people could achieve if they were allowed to govern themselves.
In Britain we established trial by jury in the modern world, we set up the first free parliament, we ensured no-one could be arbitrarily detained at the behest of the Government, we forced our rulers to recognise they ruled by consent not by right, we led the world in abolishing slavery, we established free education for all, national insurance, the National Health Service and a national broadcaster respected across the world.
By way of contrast, the European Union, despite the undoubted idealism of its founders and the good intentions of so many leaders, has proved a failure on so many fronts. The euro has created economic misery for Europe’s poorest people. European Union regulation has entrenched mass unemployment. EU immigration policies have encouraged people traffickers and brought desperate refugee camps to our borders.
Far from providing security in an uncertain world, the EU’s policies have become a source of instability and insecurity. Razor wire once more criss-crosses the continent, historic tensions between nations such as Greece and Germany have resurfaced in ugly ways and the EU is proving incapable of dealing with the current crises in Libya and Syria. The former head of Interpol says the EU’s internal borders policy is “like hanging a sign welcoming terrorists to Europe” and Scandinavian nations which once prided themselves on their openness are now turning in on themselves. All of these factors, combined with popular anger at the lack of political accountability, has encouraged extremism, to the extent that far-right parties are stronger across the continent than at any time since the 1930s.
The EU is an institution rooted in the past and is proving incapable of reforming to meet the big technological, demographic and economic challenges of our time. It was developed in the 1950s and 1960s and like other institutions which seemed modern then, from tower blocks to telexes, it is now hopelessly out of date. The EU tries to standardise and regulate rather than encourage diversity and innovation. It is an analogue union in a digital age.
The EU is built to keep power and control with the elites rather than the people. Even though we are outside the euro we are still subject to an unelected EU commission which is generating new laws every day and an unaccountable European Court in Luxembourg which is extending its reach every week, increasingly using the Charter of Fundamental Rights which in many ways gives the EU more power and reach than ever before. This growing EU bureaucracy holds us back in every area. EU rules dictate everything from the maximum size of containers in which olive oil may be sold (five litres) to the distance houses have to be from heathland to prevent cats chasing birds (five kilometres).
Individually these rules may be comical. Collectively, and there are tens of thousands of them, they are inimical to creativity, growth and progress. Rules like the EU clinical trials directive have slowed down the creation of new drugs to cure terrible diseases and ECJ judgements on data protection issues hobble the growth of internet companies. As a minister I’ve seen hundreds of new EU rules cross my desk, none of which were requested by the UK Parliament, none of which I or any other British politician could alter in any way and none of which made us freer, richer or fairer.
It is hard to overstate the degree to which the EU is a constraint on ministers’ ability to do the things they were elected to do, or to use their judgment about the right course of action for the people of this country. I have long had concerns about our membership of the EU but the experience of Government has only deepened my conviction that we need change. Every single day, every single minister is told: ‘Yes Minister, I understand, but I’m afraid that’s against EU rules’. I know it. My colleagues in government know it. And the British people ought to know it too: your government is not, ultimately, in control in hundreds of areas that matter.
But by leaving the EU we can take control. Indeed we can show the rest of Europe the way to flourish. Instead of grumbling and complaining about the things we can’t change and growing resentful and bitter, we can shape an optimistic, forward-looking and genuinely internationalist alternative to the path the EU is going down. We can show leadership. Like the Americans who declared their independence and never looked back, we can become an exemplar of what an inclusive, open and innovative democracy can achieve.
We can take back the billions we give to the EU, the money which is squandered on grand parliamentary buildings and bureaucratic follies, and invest it in science and technology, schools and apprenticeships. We can get rid of the regulations which big business uses to crush competition and instead support new start-up businesses and creative talent. We can forge trade deals and partnerships with nations across the globe, helping developing countries to grow and benefiting from faster and better access to new markets.
We are the world’s fifth largest economy, with the best armed forces of any nation, more Nobel Prizes than any European country and more world-leading universities than any European country. Our economy is more dynamic than the Eurozone, we have the most attractive capital city on the globe, the greatest “soft power” and global influence of any state and a leadership role in NATO and the UN. Are we really too small, too weak and too powerless to make a success of self-rule? On the contrary, the reason the EU’s bureaucrats oppose us leaving is they fear that our success outside will only underline the scale of their failure.
This chance may never come again in our lifetimes, which is why I will be true to my principles and take the opportunity this referendum provides to leave an EU mired in the past and embrace a better future.
You may have noticed a bit of a kerfuffle over the recent appearance of the leader of the Green Party in an interview on the BBC on Sunday.
In case you missed it……….
— exlab (@exlabourite) January 26, 2015
See, told you it didn’t go too well, with the Telegraph describing the greens as Toddlers and many others being far less polite than that (to put it mildly).
They want to devolve our armed forces from it’s present proud (despite the cuts) form, to something akin to Dad’s Army.
Loving the Greens’ vision of a 21st-century home defence force pic.twitter.com/dDp37Lly3I
— Damian Thompson (@holysmoke) January 25, 2015
They want to scrap our nuclear deterrent, at a time when Russia + Iran + North Korea are starting to get a bit “frisky”.
They want to totally abolish immigration controls, at a time when people already think we’re letting in too many immigrants of the wrong sort, and despite reforms brought in by the Conservative / LibDem coalition can still barely tell whether or not we actually have any immigration control.
They want to make it easier to bring it a foreign spouse…….. which admittedly is probably the only thing I will ever agree with the green party on ‘cos I’ve had it with British women – never caused me anything but problems with teasing me + calling me ugly + getting the wrong end of the stick over stuff + most of them seem to be more interested in tattoo covered Stella swilling morons. In contrast I’ve found women from the USA + Canada act far better towards me. The Ukranian ones don’t seem too bad either (apart from the language barrier).
Erm, anyway………… the greenies also apparently want to stick the British Royal Family (who help drum up millions of £’s of business for the UK every year) in a council house.
Additionally……. they want to give everyone (including millionaires) an allowance of £72 a week, which is 40p a week less than people currently get on Jobseekers allowance (or £1.10 a week less than when it goes up in April).
This would apparently cost about £250billion a year to finance, nearly £100billion a year more than the £156billion a year budget shortfall that Labour left for the Conservative Party to try whittle down.
The Green’s Education policy is apparently so shit that even the Labour party noticed it’s crap (and Tory’s agree with Labour’s Tristram Hunt, for once).
Oh, and they also apparently think it’s ok to be part of ISIS + Al Qeada, who do this sorta stuff……
— Herald Sun (@theheraldsun) January 13, 2015
— Tim Montgomerie ن (@montie) January 16, 2015
Islamic State (ISIS) executing ‘educated women’: The savages want to stay savage. If you would prefer to be ci… http://t.co/mqg63IFxSJ
— Pamela Geller (@PamelaGeller) January 21, 2015
Iraq: Islamic State Leader Orders Female Genital Mutilation of Two Million Girls: There can be no hope to wipi… http://t.co/3Ul5Nkekn7
— Pamela Geller (@PamelaGeller) January 25, 2015
Apparently the Labour Party have been holding their annual conference, and Ed Miliband made a speech as disasterous as a Top Gear caravanning holiday (only less entertaining) with it slated by both the media + politicians from the Conservatives, UKIP + his own side.
In Twitchy(ish) style, here’s some of the best comments I’ve spotted on Twitter about it:
Miliband’s speech set to last 80 minutes. By coincidence, that’s how long a base coat of Dulux paint takes to dry.
— Tim Stanley (@timothy_stanley) September 23, 2014
— Matt (@isoglyph) September 23, 2014
Is there really another half an hour to go? Please kill me now.
— Iain Dale (@IainDale) September 23, 2014
I have never felt such incredible sympathy for Labour conference delegates in all my life. If any need ‘counselling’ please do get in touch. — Rees-Mogg (@JakeReesMogg) September 23, 2014
Pathetic. Miliband is making Labour look irrelevant. No austerity realism, no appreciation for the Ukip/SNP challenge, no philosophy at all
— Tim Stanley (@timothy_stanley) September 23, 2014
Ed Miliband didn’t mention the deficit once. Extraordinary. If you can’t fix the economy you can’t fund the NHS
— George Osborne (@George_Osborne) September 23, 2014
.@johnrentoul on Miliband speech: ‘Lamentable, weak, clichéd, embarrassing, uninspiring.. a complete and final disaster’. Get off the fence!
— James Chapman (Mail) (@jameschappers) September 23, 2014
Text from Labour councillor “Feel free to tweet but don’t give my name or identification away: worst leaders speech I’ve ever seen. Dire.” — Greg Hands (@GregHands) September 23, 2014
Ed Miliband speaks for well over an hour. @bbcnickrobinson says it could be stripped down to two sentences.
— Peter Thompson (@TheRedRag) September 23, 2014
And as an added bonus……….
And from across the Atlantic….
Oh yeah, nearly forgot…..
Ed Miliband “forgot” to mention the deficit in his speech. But UK hasn’t forgotten who caused it. Amazing omission. Lab still don’t get it
— Christopher Pincher (@ChrisPincher) September 23, 2014
With reference to my last tweet; it’s true folks – Ed really did forget to deliver the deficit paragraphs. His aides confirmed.
— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) September 23, 2014
At least that’s what it appears from this post I’ve seen from yesterday…
Seems he wants to get shot of elected Police Commissioners, introduced by the Conservative/LibDem Coalition, and originally touted in the book The Plan by Daniel Hannan MEP + his old partner in crime Douglas Carswell in order to restore localism to policing decisions instead of them being made miles away in London.
Perhaps if we had a Recall law for ALL elected officials (also to be found in the same book), instead of the watered down half-arsed versions I’ve heard have been attempted to be enacted so far, we wouldn’t have trouble getting shot of that bloke from South Yorkshire who won’t quit.
So was the gist of a pair of Headlines I saw the other week, and been meaning to mutter something about on this blog ever since.
Anyone else see the logic in this?
Around 26th Feb, George Osborne says “UK has Run out of Money“, and seems to be going ahead with a Fuel Tax rise at a time everyone’s screaming out for him to cut the damn things to stop harming the economy + cut government spending to fund Tax cuts.
Then a few days later, there is the headline “Foreigners to get £20,000 HIV Drugs FREE on the NHS“…. what part of “there’s no money left” don’t they get their heads round?
In Other News……………
Tax Paid to UK Government last year = £590billion
UK Government spending last year = £710billion