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Gove would be dangerous PM, May safe pair of hands

by Hugo Dixon | 30.06.2016

Theresa May could well fail to secure good access to the single market if she becomes the next prime minister. Nobody should hope she’d keep us in the EU either, despite campaigning for Remain. But the home secretary would probably avoid a bloody divorce – unlike Michael Gove, the other main candidate who has stabbed his erstwhile comrade, Boris Johnson, in the back.

The justice secretary would be a dangerous prime minister. Unlike Johnson, who sat on the fence until the final moment, Gove is a true believer in Brexit. He is a revolutionary, not a conservative.

Gove doesn’t just want to leave the EU; he wants to break it up. This would be dangerous for Britain if we achieved it, as the EU provides us with a 1,000 mile buffer zone of stability in every direction. But even if the justice secretary failed in his ambition, the mere fact that he wants this would raise the hackles of our EU partners. They would circle the wagons to defend their project, making it all the harder for us to ensure a good exit deal.

1000 Miles of Peacev3

Gove also wants to pass emergency legislation limiting the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction. This could breach our treaty obligations. What’s more, he has threatened to veto the other EU countries’ plans until we get what we want. These two statements would also increase the risk of acrimonious negotiations.

As if that is not bad enough, Gove (more than Johnson) seems responsible for Vote Leave’s anti-migrant, anti-Turk scaremongering. And he has had bad judgment in choosing Dominic Cummings, another revolutionary who showed disrespect for parliament when he appeared before MPs earlier this year, as his key advisor.

May has none of these defects. She is sensible and competent. She has, for example said we shouldn’t invoke Article 50, triggering formal divorce talks, until we have an agreed negotiating strategy – noting this wouldn’t be before the end of this year. That’s essential.

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The home secretary also cannot be skewered for failing to keep the ludicrous promises that Gove and Johnson made during the campaign. If there isn’t £350 million a week for the NHS, too bad – she didn’t make the pledge; indeed, she warned of economic damage. If there’s no money to cut VAT, ditto.

May has already hinted that the way she would handle a budget hole is by allowing borrowing to rise rather than increasing taxes. This, too, is wise – provided the UK’s borrowing costs stay at current low levels. She also talked a good game about uniting the country after the divisive politics of the past months.

All this is good enough. But we are still in damage limitation territory. May says it is a priority to keep access to the single market. But she also says: “There is clearly no mandate for a deal that involves accepting the free movement of people as it has worked hitherto”.

The key question will be how the words “as it has worked hitherto” are interpreted. If May is prepared to maintain free movement with a few tweaks, we may keep most of our access to the single market. But the more free movement is curtailed, the more we’ll lose access for our goods and, in particular, our services.

May was also categorical that “Brexit means Brexit. The campaign was fought, the vote was held, turnout was high and the public gave their verdict. There must be no attempts to remain inside the EU, no attempts to rejoin it through the backdoor, and no second referendum.”

Now, of course, one should never say never in politics. The divorce negotiations are going to be long and drawn out. It is possible that circumstances would change in such a way that allowed May to do a u-turn if she became prime minister. But no pro-European should count on that.

Edited by Sam Ashworth-Hayes

3 Responses to “Gove would be dangerous PM, May safe pair of hands”

  • Prefer the present team – Cameron & Osborne.

    It isn’t too late, is it, for George to change his mind? GO, George, Go.

  • May a safe pair of hands? She has alienated the Police Federation and in a previously unheard of occurrence, several police constabularies have been to court to extend investigations about Tory election expenses irregularities. What comes aroud goes around perhaps? Her actions also facilitated an exodus of senior police officers leading to her contemplating a foreign Police Officer to take charge of the Met Police.

    She also alienated the Immigration Agency resulting in its head resigning and eventually when things failed to improve she was forced to bring it back into direct control of the Home Office after which immigration levels went through the roof not just failing one of the Tories key manifesto pledges but positively mocking it and now she seem to have even given up trying to deal with the issue. The Passport Agency is often in disarray not least because they are giving out citizenships like sweeties. Under May the number of people getting citizenships is at record levels. However once again when problems arose Mays attitude was that of a domineering bully.

    The reality is May has had difficult relationships with almost all areas of her feifdom at the Home Office and has also already incoherent u-turned on the ECHR. In April she wanted to leave but was advised by Justice that because of EU membershp that was impossible. However now that we are to leave the EU May wants too stay in the ECHR when it would seem its no longer necessary such intellectual incoherence will not aid her and nor will her seemingly hectoring manner . This year not being satisfied she’s now started on the Fireman.

    The thing is in all these cases May has had the power so she can afford to be overbearing and demanding eventhough its clear that many will not suffer her bullying. The thing is when she goes to Brussels she will have no power and her methods of forcing her will upon people will not work. Furthermore she lacks the intellectual understanding of the Brexit cause and as such will lack the necessary comprehension of the issue to navigate the negotiations successfully.

    WIll she really be the best for negotiations?

    PS And I didn’t bother going into how she has misled parliament or how she went AWOL during the London Riots and the eu referendum. Combine that with her innate expertise in putting her foot in her mouth and her Court Jester outfits and she really is everything this article overlooks

  • Gove has shamefully wrecked our country, torn it apart, misled people to get his own way, working against the best interests of our country, unashamedly playing on peoples’ fears. He is a divisive character to say the least. Clearly NOT prime minister material!

    May could be the person to unwind this mess – we need somebody with the courage to hold a second vote so lets check that we think she has – so far she has said no to a second vote so we need a plan to vigorously our campaign for a second vote.

    Let’s not forget that the leave result has knocked £billions off of pensions and investments, sent the pound plummeting so that goods and petrol will be more expensive, reduced the spending power of the NHS for buying in essential services and equipment, sent banks scurrying off to make plans to relocate British jobs and businesses to other European countries, curtailed inward investment into the UK, etc. The list goes on. It is bad for the Britain, bad for British people. Hence why it is essential that we pull back from the brink and choose to remain in the EU.