Saturday, December 4

Gove hits out at Corbyn’s PM bid



Commentators often describe me as ‘a man in a hurry’. It’s true that in every job I’ve done in government, I’ve driven change and been determined to deliver the benefits of new policies as quickly as possible.

I have used the Whitehall machine to get things done and force through dynamic reforms. I have directed civil servants rather than letting them direct me.

That’s what I did as education secretary – with 1.9million more children now in good and outstanding schools. That’s how I approached reform of the criminal justice system – modernising our courts and making punishments fit the crime.

Also, it’s how I’ve approached my current job as Environment Secretary – with swift action on reducing single-use plastic, on animal welfare, farming and fisheries.

And it’s how I’ll approach Brexit if I’m fortunate enough to become prime minister. A clear plan. No drift, no dithering, no dilution of the referendum mandate for Britain to leave the EU.

I’m ready to deliver Brexit. Once Brexit is secured, we can deliver a vision that will make this country even greater.

We need to improve public services, support the businesses that ensure growing levels of prosperity for all, invest in the infrastructure that the whole of the UK needs so as to flourish, and nurture new technologies so that Britain leads the world in scientific innovation.

Above all, Conservatives should be warriors for the dispossessed – the most disadvantaged in our society.

Crucially, we can use the money we get back from the EU to invest in our most deserving communities. We can demonstrate that Britain, outside the EU, can be a liberal, progressive and democratic beacon.

I put everything on the line. I was willing to risk my career and friendships to fight for Brexit. As chair of the Leave campaign, I knew the fight would be tough but we won against all the odds.

It’s not enough, though, just to believe in Brexit – you’ve got to be able to deliver it. Here’s my plan to do so. We need:

  • A Conservative, politician-led, negotiating team. I will make sure MPs across the party are involved in shaping our negotiating stance and we have proper leadership in the direct talks with Brussels. My policy unit will be our parliamentary party.
  • We need a new approach to Northern Ireland – a Union guarantee. That means listening to our Unionist friends in Northern Ireland who want to see a so-called ‘Stormont Lock’ which would guarantee in international law that there won’t be any difference in laws across the UK unless the Northern Ireland assembly and executive agrees. I will also personally lead the talks to get devolved government back up and running in Northern Ireland.
  • A fullstop to the backstop. We need a dedicated minister leading the search for alternative arrangements for the Irish border – supported with proper funding and intensive technical work. We have to remove any risk that we could be trapped in a backstop, so I will work with the Irish government and Brussels to secure a clear exit mechanism, compatible with the principle of consent for Northern Ireland.
  • No second referendum. Holding one would make divisions worse and give the Scottish Nationalists another excuse to try to break up our Union.
  • A Canada-style deal. The best way to honour the referendum result is to secure a bespoke agreement based on the free trade agreement between Canada and the EU, tailored for Britain’s needs. This means free trade as well as taking back control of our laws, borders and money.
  • Action this day. We must leave the EU as soon as we can. I want us to leave before October 31 and that will be my goal. I won’t be engaging in can-kicking or dithering.
  • A Brexit rule: always choose Brexit over No Brexit. If, finally, it comes to a decision between No Deal and No Brexit, I will choose No Deal – it’s a democratic imperative that we must leave the EU before the next general election or we risk letting Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street. I’ve been involved in No Deal planning. I recognise, of course, it would mean short-term turbulence, but we would get through it and ultimately prosper.

This is about more than Brexit – it is about trust and the very democratic values I stood for in the Leave campaign.