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Brexit campaigner Michael Gove: It is time to tell Brussels elite 'you're fired'

Published 03/06/2016

David Cameron was accused of 'scaremongering' and 'hypocrisy' by the Sky News studio audience
David Cameron was accused of 'scaremongering' and 'hypocrisy' by the Sky News studio audience

Prominent Brexit campaigner Michael Gove has issued a call to British voters to send a message to the "arrogant" Brussels elite: "You're fired. We're taking back control."

In an hour-long TV grilling ahead of the June 23 EU referendum, Mr Gove claimed that " the majority of people in this country are suffering as a result of our membership of the European Union".

Repeatedly blaming the EU for the collapse of his own father's fish merchant company, he branded Brussels a "job-destroying machine" and said employment would rise and salaries increase if the UK left.

Speaking on Sky News's EU: In or Out?, Mr Gove denied that Vote Leave was running a "Project Lies" campaign, and said he was happy to allow independent auditors to test its widely-criticised claim that the UK sends Brussels £350 million a week.

The Justice Secretary accused David Cameron's Remain camp of relying on "pessimism" about Britain's future, and insisted that Brexit was a "Project Hope" which would allow the next generation to "make this country once more truly great".

He insisted he was "absolutely not" using the referendum campaign as a means to seize the prime minister's job, saying voters should "count me out" from any bid for the Conservative leadership.

Under intense questioning from Sky News political editor Faisal Islam, Mr Gove was unable to name any independent economic authorities which backed Brexit, but insisted he was "glad" that organisations like the Bank of England, IMF and OECD were not backing EU withdrawal.

Organisations that supported EU membership had in "many cases" received money from Brussels, had "consistently made errors" on issues like the euro and the 2008 crash and had an "agenda", he claimed.

"I am glad that all these organisations are not on my side," said Mr Gove. "The organisations that many people are citing in this debate are organisations that have been wrong in the past and I think they are wrong now."

In an increasingly tetchy exchange, Mr Islam branded the Justice Secretary an "Oxbridge Trump" and suggested that the Leave camp shared with the US presidential candidate a disdain for expert opinion.

Asked why voters should trust him over all of the experts and leaders who had spoken out in support of the UK staying in, Mr Gove replied: "I'm not asking the public to trust me, I'm asking the public to trust themselves."

He added: "The people who are backing the Remain campaign are people who have done very well thank you out of the European Union."

The Sky political editor challenged him to name a single international ally who backed Brexit, adding: "You can't name one, can you? I'll give you half a point for Donald Trump."

Mr Gove won applause as he accused the Remain camp of "sneering condescension" for suggesting that those who want to withdraw from the EU were "following in the footsteps of Trump".

And when Mr Islam said that his father's experience of losing his company gave him "no special moral authority", the Justice Secretary hit back: "I'm absolutely not unique. I'm one of many who have seen their parents and their friends lose their jobs, lose their income, lose their livelihood because of the European Union.

"Do not skate over their misery. Don't dismiss the pain that they've had. Don't belittle the hurt that has been caused by the job-destroying machine that is the European Union."

He accused the broadcaster of being on the side of the "elites", while he was on the "side of the people".

But he came under fire from some audience members, including Andrew Carnegie, who compared him to a First World War general ordering his troops "over the top" while having "no idea what's on the frontline or what the casualty rate will be in the conflicts to come".

Asked whether he could guarantee no-one would lose their job as a result of Brexit, Mr Gove said: "I can't guarantee every person currently in work in their current job will keep their job."

To loud applause from the studio audience, he added: "Seventy-three members of the European Parliament will be losing their job. Our European Commissioner will be losing his job and as far as I'm concerned I wish them well in the private sector."

And he added: "It's the invincible arrogance of Europe's elites that gets me.

"These are people who have seen the euro collapse. These are people who are presiding over a migration crisis on their borders, and yet do they ever acknowledge that they need to change? No.

"They say they need more integration, more of our money, more control over this country.

"I think it's time that we said to people who are incapable of acknowledging that they've ever got anything wrong: 'I'm sorry, you've had your day.'

"Unelected, unaccountable elites, I'm afraid it's time to say 'You're fired. We are going to take back control'."

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