Michael Gove says future PM could change Theresa May's deal after Brexit

'There's one critical thing, a future prime minister could always choose to alter the relationship between Britain and the European Union'

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 16 September 2018 15:28
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Gove fails to answer whether Chequers is a 'permanent' or 'temporary' solution

Michael Gove has said Theresa May’s Chequers blueprint for Brexit is the “right one for now” but that a future prime minister could alter the UK-EU relationship if they desired.

The environment secretary – one of the most prominent Leave campaigners during the referendum – gave his lukewarm backing for Ms May’s plan as he admitted he himself had “compromised”.

But speaking on Sunday, he refused to say whether the plans thrashed out by the prime minister and agreed by cabinet would be “permanent” and said her successor would have the ability to change it.

It comes as the prime minister faces escalating pressure from members of her party to ditch the blueprint that is despised by dozens of hard Brexiteers, or face a challenge to her leadership.

Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show whether the prime minister’s Chequers plan for Brexit was a “temporary” or “permanent” solution, Mr Gove replied: “I think it’s the right solution for our country to leave the European Union on the basis of what we’ve negotiated, and I think it’s absolutely right because we would be outside the single market, we would be outside the customs union.

Pressed again, he added: “No, I think it’s the right answer. But, there’s one critical thing, a future prime minister could always choose to alter the relationship between Britain and the European Union, but the Chequers approach is the right one for now as we’ve got to make sure we respect that vote and take advantage of the opportunities of being outside the EU.”

During the appearance, Mr Gove also urged Brussels to compromise in the negotiations. “I’ve compromised,” he said. “I’ve been quite clear that some of the things that I argued for in the referendum passionately, as a result of Chequers I have to qualify one or two of my views.

“I have to acknowledge the parliamentary arithmetic. I believe the critical thing is making sure we leave in good order with a deal that safeguards the referendum mandate.”

Mr Gove also backtracked on his previous criticism of Mark Carney after he suggested in 2016 that the Bank of England governor is “neither always infallible nor truly independent”, and said he should “curb his arrogance”.

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Gove said: “I regard him [Mr Carney], not only as truly independent but a first rate public servant who is doing an excellent job.”

“Yes, I was critical of him in the past, but I actually do think he’s doing an excellent job,” he added.

His remarks follow Mr Carney’s presentation to cabinet earlier this week on the effects of a no-deal Brexit.

Details of the meeting were leaked, including “worst-case scenarios” such as house prices collapsing by as much as 35 per cent.

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