EU referendum: England’s John Barnes calls out Michael Gove for saying he supports Brexit

The former England international says he made it 'categorically clear' that he backed Remain

Jon Stone
Tuesday 21 June 2016 19:12 BST
John Barnes supports Remain

Former England footballer John Barnes has intervened after a senior Vote Leave figure claimed he supported leaving the EU.

Mr Barnes, who is currently working in South Africa, said he had received a text message from his son saying that Michael Gove claimed he supported Brexit.

Mr Gove had listed Mr Barnes in an interview on Sky News as one of the figures he claimed backed his campaign.

But Mr Barnes came on air later in the afternoon to clarify that he supported Remain – and said he had already “categorically” told the Leave campaign he did not support them.

He said he had previously given an interview talking about the impact of Brexit on English football.

“That was then misinterpreted as saying I’m supporting the Leave campaign. I got a phone call the very next day – about a month ago – saying thank you for our support,” he told Sky News.

“I made it categorically clear … I don’t support the Leave campaign because that’s a very selfish view just looking at English football. I’ve got to think about what I think is right for the country.

“I made it plain that I do not support them, that I support Remain. They said ‘Thank you very much, we won’t contact you again’. That is why I am very surprised to hear my name being called.”

The former footballer, who played for England’s national team 79 times, went on to say why he supported Britain remaining in the EU.

“I wanted to be left out of it, unfortunately now they’ve brought me back in and I really want to tell people how I do feel about it,” he said.

“If everybody decided to go their own way, where will the world be? If you look at the history of Britain in the past, being the world leaders from a moral point of view, from a compassionate point of view … we are the first to jump ship because now the going gets a bit tough?

“This is not what, in my opinion, being British is about. It’s a very selfish view. So I understand the problems we have on immigration, but do we have a worse problem than they do in Germany, France, and Greece? They have a bigger problem, but they’re there to try and help it, to try and come to a solution by sticking together.

“I’m surprised, I’m flabbergaster that Britain are the first to jump ship when the going gets tough.”

Mr Barnes also went onto criticise the analysis of people who said immigrants were undercutting their wages.

“The people who are talking about being ‘undercut’ by Polish workers, for example – that’s nothing to do with immigration, that’s to do with labour laws, to do with trade unions.

“Make it more difficult for these companies to pay the Polish workers less, pay them the same as the English workers. But that’s nothing to do with immigration. So from the immigration point of view I’m supporting Remain.”

Mr Barnes’s intervention comes after David Beckham this morning backed Remain. All 20 Premiership football clubs have also backed remaining in the EU.

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