Tory PM hopeful Michael Gove 'prepared to delay Brexit by a year' to avoid no-deal

Posted On: 
2nd June 2019

Tory leadership contender Michael Gove is prepared to delay Brexit until late 2020 to avoid quitting the EU without a deal at the end of October this year, it has been reported.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove
Credit: 
PA Images

The Environment Secretary has told fellow Cabinet members that leaving without an agreement could trigger a general election that could sweep Jeremy Corbyn to Downing Street, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

Most of the other candidates fighting for the Tory crown have said they will take Britain out of the bloc on the current departure date of 31 October, deal or no deal.

Blow for Michael Gove as his deputy backs Jeremy Hunt for Tory leader

Michael Gove promises free UK citizenship for three million EU nationals if he becomes PM

WATCH: Michael Gove confirms he will challenge Boris Johnson for Tory leadership

But a source close to Mr Gove told the paper: “Simply trying to go for no deal before the UK is properly prepared will lead to a general election with Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street and risks Brexit being cancelled altogether.

“These are the most complex negotiations in our peacetime history, it’s not enough to believe in Brexit, you’ve got to be able to deliver it.”

The paper added that Mr Gove is preparing to reveal his Brexit strategy this week.

Boris Johnson, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and Sajid Javid are among the contestants in the race who have insisted they would be prepared to quit the bloc with no deal.

Former Brexit Secretary Mr Raab announced last night that he would even appoint a minister for no-deal at Cabinet level, arguing: ​"To give ourselves the best shot of a deal, we must be willing to walk away."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock meanwhile has doubled down on his promise not to take the UK out of the EU without a deal - insisting he would renegotiate the controversial Brexit backstop.

He told the Sunday Times he would demand a time limit to the mechanism Theresa May agreed for keeping the Northern Irish border open in case new trading arrangements are not in place before the exit date.

The EU has consistently ruled out a time limit to the backstop and has said the Withdrawal Agreement struck by Mrs May cannot be reopened.

Mr Hancock also said he would set up an Irish border council to prevent the creation of a hard frontier and give £1bn to communities around the border to ensure they are protected.

NEW SUPPORT

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has received a boost by winning the backing of Cabinet minister Liz Truss - the most senior figure to declare their support for a candidate.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury said the frontrunner had the “oomph” to deliver Brexit and announced she was joining his campaign as a policy “tsar”.

But it was reported elsewhere that Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd will not be supporting Mr Johnson after talks with his team about avoiding a no-deal Brexit reached no agreement.

Instead she will back Mr Hancock before switching to Mr Gove later in the race, according to the Sunday Times.