Gove steps up Brexit rhetoric with 'Soviet-style control freaks' piece in Times

Writing in The Times today, Justice Secretary Michael Gove has described the European Union as "an economic sinkhole" and a "failing Soviet system", and says that the UK's continued membership of it would constitute a "direct and serious threat" to public services including the NHS.

Time to leave, writes Gove (Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/Press Association Images)
Time to leave, writes Gove (Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire/Press Association Images)

A piece on page eight of the newspaper today, and posted online just after midnight this morning, has the headline 'Soviet-style control freaks are a threat to our independence'. Gove begins by saying that politics "should be about reform", and describes some of the reforms his Government has enacted.

Gove is one of the more high-profile ministers to back Brexit, joining Boris Johnson and Chris Grayling in lining up alongside Vote Leave, which was recently designated the official lead campaign group working for a vote to leave the EU in June's referendum.

He goes on to write: "But there's one are where we set out to bring reform and where - very sadly – it hasn't yet happened. We haven't been able, so far, to reform the European Union."

The piece by Gove has since been reported in a number of other national media outlets.

Gove says that the EU "has become an economic sinkhole – growth and jobs disappear while neighbours look on increasingly nervously". He also writes that the EU's "answer to the failure of integration is never to change direction but always to press the accelerator", and refers to it having a "failing Soviet system".

And in the week that junior doctors will withdraw emergency cover for the first time following four strikes in which emergency cover was made available, he turns his attention to the NHS.

"There is a direct and serious threat to our public services, standard of living and ability to maintain social solidarity if we accept continued EU membership," he says, adding that the cost of membership to the UK is currently £350m a week and rising, and that "our NHS would undoubtedly benefit if we changed the terms of trade and invested money that currently goes to Brussels into our health service".

On Saturday, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote to the chair of the British Medical Association's council to ask the doctors' union to avert strike action. Dr Mark Porter responded to Hunt on Sunday to decline the request, but said: "We can, I know, both agree on the pressing need to end this damaging dispute and get on with the work of putting in place a contract that ensures safe, high-quality patient care and addresses the many challenges faced by the NHS."

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