Michael Gove and George Osborne clash over Brexit economic impact

Posted On: 
8th May 2016

Conservative splits over the European Union returned to the fore today as Michael Gove and George Osborne faced off over the impact of Brexit on the UK’s economic prospects.

Michael Gove on the Andrew Marr Show
Credit: 
BBC One

Mr Gove, one of the heads of the Vote Leave campaign, warned that remaining in the EU would see Britain “lose autonomy” over its economy, including tax policy.

But Mr Osborne seized on the Justice Secretary’s admission that he would not want the UK to remain inside the single market to warn of “catastrophic” consequences of Brexit.

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And the Chancellor said house prices stood to fall if Britain left the EU.

The two Conservative big beasts went head-to-head as the referendum campaign heats up after the council and assembly elections.

David Cameron is expected to lay out the patriotic case for remaining in the EU later this week, while Mr Osborne signalled a Government analysis on the short-term impact of Brexit would also be forthcoming in the near future.

He told ITV’s Peston on Sunday show: “Today we’re getting to the heart of the matter: we’ve just had the Leave campaign admit this morning that Britain would leave the single market – that is the largest free trade area in the world.

“That would be catastrophic for people’s jobs and their incomes and their livelihoods. Now, some people might think wrecking the economy is a price worth paying; I absolutely reject that.

“It’s already clear from the Treasury analysis that, for example, there would be a significant shock to the housing market, that that would hit the value of people’s homes, that would hit the cost of people’s mortgages.”

Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, Mr Gove laid out the economic case for leaving the EU, highlighting proposals for greater integration included in last year’s ‘Five Presidents’ report.

“I think there is a real danger if we vote to remain that the Five Presidents report and the fact that the countries that are in the eurozone have a majority within the EU mean that we could lose autonomy economically,” the Justice Secretary told the Andrew Marr Show.  

“It is clear that the European Union wants this referendum out of the way and if Britain votes to remain it wants to press ahead not just with more counties entering the euro but with a banking union and a fiscal union and it wants to exercise more control over banking regulation and taxes across Europe.”

Mr Gove downplayed any notion that Conservative splits over the EU were affecting relationships at the top of Government.

He spoke of the “warm and friendly and good humoured” atmosphere when he helped Mr Cameron prepare for Prime Minister’s Questions every Wednesday.

He said: “He has made it clear he would rather I supported his deal and I have explained I would rather he had taken a different position but the great thing about the Prime Minister is he was generous to allow collages to differ, he has been generous enough to accept the nature of that debate. We are lucky to have him as Prime Minister. Long may he remain so.”