EU referendum: Michael Gove responds to David Beckham backing Remain by citing Sol Campbell as Brexit supporter

'David? Well, I don’t know him well, and I think he’s made his mind up,' says Justice Secretary

Monday 04 July 2016 14:23
Sol Campbell is a former Arsenal defender
Sol Campbell is a former Arsenal defender

Michael Gove has responded to global icon David Beckham coming out in support of the UK staying in the EU by pointing to the backing of former footballer Sol Campbell and John Barnes for the Leave campaign.

Beckham, a former captain of the English national team and winner of 19 major trophies, said future generations must tackle the problems of the world “together and not alone”.

In a post on his Instagram account alongside a photo with his former French teammate Eric Cantona, he added: “We live in a vibrant and connected world where together as a people we are strong."

But when the news was put to Mr Gove, the Tory MP and Secretary of State for Justice, he told Sky News: “David? Well, I don’t know him well, and I think he’s made his mind up.

He added: “What I would say is that there are lots of people from sport like Sol Campbell and John Barnes.


I'm passionate about my country and whatever the result of Thursday's referendum, we will always be Great. Each side has the right to their opinion and that should always be respected whatever the outcome of the European Referendum. I played my best years at my boyhood club, Manchester United. I grew up with a core group of young British players that included Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville Brothers. Added to that was an experienced group of older British players such as Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce and Paul Ince. Now that team might have gone on to win trophies but we were a better and more successful team because of a Danish goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel, the leadership of an Irishman Roy Keane and the skill of a Frenchman in Eric Cantona. I was also privileged to play and live in Madrid, Milan and Paris with teammates from all around Europe and the world. Those great European cities and their passionate fans welcomed me and my family and gave us the opportunity to enjoy their unique and inspiring cultures and people. We live in a vibrant and connected world where together as a people we are strong. For our children and their children we should be facing the problems of the world together and not alone. For these reasons I am voting to Remain

A photo posted by David Beckham (@davidbeckham) on

“And from the world of entertainment like Liz Hurley and Michael Caine, but critically, from business and manufacturing and people who create jobs like Anthony Bamford and James Dyson.”

Sol Campbell, a former England captain and defender for Arsenal, considered running to be the Conservative candidate for the Mayor of London earlier this year.

One of his policies was to lengthen the platforms across the London Underground, a 150-year-old network that has 270 stations.

John Barnes, a Jamaica-born former English footballer, who made more than 300 appearances for Liverpool Football Club, scoring 65 goals.

Earlier this week, all of the teams in England’s Premier League expressed their support for staying in the European Union in the forthcoming referendum.

Richard Scudamore, the league’s chairman, said all of the 20 top-flight clubs wanted to remain and that a vote to leave on June 23 would be "incongruous" with the league's commitment to "openness".

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