Michael Gove has apologised for comparing economic experts warning about leaving the European Union with the Nazis who denounced physicist Albert Einstein in the 1930s.
The inflammatory remarks – just hours before the polls open – led David Cameron, who is Mr Gove’s close friend and Cabinet colleague, to say that the Justice Secretary had “lost it” and made a “massive mistake” in making the comparison.
Apologising for the comments, which he made on LBC radio on Tuesday, Mr Gove said: “Yesterday I was asked a question by Iain Dale [LBC presenter] about the predictions of doom for the economy. I answered, as I often do, with a historical analogy. It was clumsy and inappropriate.
“Obviously I did not mean to imply anything about the motives of those who have spoken out in favour of staying in the EU.
“Throughout the campaign I've avoided making personal attacks, I'm sorry for speaking so clumsily and apologise for giving offence…I think Britain will be more prosperous if we end our connection to the euro project and I should have answered this question directly.”
Just hours before his apology his fellow leading Leave campaigner Boris Johnson backed him, telling BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “Michael Gove has run an absolutely fantastic campaign and he is right in what he says, I think.”
"Some of these experts, they totally failed to foresee the crash of 2008,” the former mayor of London added.
The International Monetary Fund, ten Nobel-prize winning economists and the Bank of England have all warned that leaving the EU could damage the economy.
"I think the key thing here is to interrogate the assumptions that are made and to ask if these arguments are good,” Mr Gove told LBC Radio on Tuesday.
"We have to be careful about historical comparisons, but Albert Einstein during the 1930s was denounced by the German authorities for being wrong and his theories were denounced, and one of the reasons of course he was denounced was because he was Jewish.
"They got 100 German scientists in the pay of the government to say that he was wrong and Einstein said: 'Look, if I was wrong, one would have been enough."'
Mr Gove added: "The truth is that if you look at the quality of the analysis, if you look at the facts on the ground, you can come to an appropriate conclusion.
"And the appropriate conclusion, I think, all of us can come to is that with growth rates so low in Europe, with so many unemployed and with the nature of the single currency so damaging, freeing ourselves from that project can only strengthen our economy."
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