Leading Brexit campaigner Michael Gove has accused Cabinet colleagues of treating the British public “like children, unfit to be trusted” and needing to be “frightened into obedience”, as Conservative Party tensions boil over.
Using the opportunity of a keynote speech from the campaign to leave the European Union (EU), Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Michael Gove attacked his political allies while attempting to set out his positive vision for Britain’s future outside the politico-trading bloc.
Saying his pro-Remain colleagues have a “deeply pessimistic view of the British people’s potential” Mr. Gove also identified their “profoundly negative vision of the future which isn’t rooted in reality.” Wedded to this, he alleged that Project Fear style campaign tactics patronise the electorate, saying:
“The idea that if Britain voted to leave the European Union we would instantly become some sort of hermit kingdom, a North Atlantic North Korea only without that country’s fund of international good will, is a fantasy, a phantom, a great, grotesque patronising and preposterous Peter Mandelsonian conceit that imagines the people of this country are mere children, capable of being frightened into obedience by conjuring up new bogeymen every night.”
The real fear for Mr. Gove is not what might happen if Britain chooses to leave, it’s the message bureaucrats will take from a decision to remain. He warned that “bosses and bureaucrats will take that as carte blanche to continue taking more power and money away from Britain.They will say we have voted for ‘more Europe’.”
In other words, rather than liberating ourselves by leaving, we will become “hostages to [the EU’s] agenda”.
The nature of Michael Gove’s claims about his colleagues will, according to The Independent, make the task of reunifying the Tory Party harder regardless of the referendum result. However, this side of 23 June that is not his focus.
Referencing the last public words of Tory Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, Mr. Gove concluded:
“But for Europe, Britain voting to leave will be the beginning of something potentially even more exciting – the democratic liberation of a whole Continent.
“If we vote to leave we will have – in the words of a former British Prime Minister – saved our country by our exertions and Europe by our example.
“We will have confirmed that we believe our best days lie ahead, that we believe our children can build a better future, that this country’s instincts and institutions, its people and its principles, are capable not just of making our society freer, fairer and richer but also once more of setting an inspirational example to the world. It is a noble ambition and one I hope this country will unite behind in the weeks to come.”