EU Referendum

EU referendum: EU is 'job destroying machine', says Gove

The European Union is a " job destroying machine", Justice Secretary Michael Gove has said.

In a live Q&A, the pro-Leave campaigner urged voters to "take back control" from "Europe's elites".

In the Sky News interview on Friday evening, he was pressed on his campaign's controversial claim that the UK spends £350m a week on the EU.

The Remain side said he had "failed to set out a credible plan for Britain outside the EU".

The UK's in-out EU referendum takes place on 23 June.

Live: Reaction to Michael Gove's interview

In the interview, Mr Gove said: "The truth about the European Union is that it is a job destroying machine.

"Anyone who's working in manufacturing here should know they will have increased opportunities if we leave the European Union."

The UK, he said, would be able to forge trade deals with China, India and the US. Working people currently had lower wages "as a result of our membership of the European Union", he said.

"Let me quote the leader of the campaign that wants to keep us in, Stuart Rose. He said wages would rise if we left the European Union.

"So, more jobs, higher wages and a stronger manufacturing base if we choose to leave."

But the justice secretary also admitted: "I can't guarantee every person currently in work in their current job will keep their job."

And he added: "Seventy-three members of the European Parliament will be losing their job."

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Responding to a Port Talbot steel worker who asked how he should vote to protect his job, Mr Gove said leaving the EU would allow the government "additional flexibility" to step in and support struggling industries.

Earlier on Friday, investment bank JP Morgan warned it may have to cut up to 4,000 UK jobs if the country voted to leave.

The Sky News interview followed a programme on Thursday, featuring Prime Minister David Cameron, who is campaigning for Remain.

Mr Gove criticised the prime minister's performance, describing it as "depressing" and "an exercise in trying to scare you".

Challenged on the lack of international leaders and organisations backing his side, he said the public had "had enough of experts... getting it consistently wrong".

He repeatedly targeted the "elites" of the EU and their "invincible arrogance".

Questioned on the £350m figure, which has been criticised by the UK Statistics Authority, Mr Gove said he was "happy" to have the claim independently audited and described it as "the difference between the total amount we hand over and what we get back".

The important thing, he said, was "we don't have control of that money".

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Vote Leave has been campaigning hard on immigration in recent days, and Mr Gove said that by leaving, the UK could have an "inclusive, non-racist immigration policy that works in the interest of everyone in this country".

He faced several hostile questions from the audience, with one man comparing him to a World War One general sending his soldiers "over the top" with "no idea what's on the front line".

After the interview, the Leave campaign said an extra £100m - saved by quitting the EU - could be spent on the NHS.

Shadow justice secretary and Remain campaigner Lord Falconer said the interview was a "lost opportunity" because Mr Gove had not explained "the economics of leaving".

He added: "I thought it was a very, very telling hour because it revealed that there is no answer to what practically every economist said which is that we would suffer terribly economically if we left the EU."

The Stronger In campaign highlighted Mr Gove's comment about being unable to guarantee people would keep their current jobs, and said Leave could not "name a single expert, economic institution, business or foreign ally who supports them quitting Europe".

Mr Cameron, whose party is split on the EU, has refused to take part in any head-to-head TV debates with pro-Brexit Conservatives.

But a number of debates and live Q&As are planned, including a BBC event at Wembley Arena on 21 June.

In his appearance, the PM was pressed on immigration from within the EU, warning that voting to Leave in order to try to control it would "trash" the economy.

What TV debates are planned, and when?


  • A live event at Wembley Arena on 21 June with representatives of both sides of the EU debate questioned by voters. David Dimbleby, Mishal Husain and Emily Maitlis to present.
  • Two special editions of Question Time, moderated by David Dimbleby - with Michael Gove on 15 June in Nottingham and David Cameron on 19 June in Milton Keynes
  • A young voters' show from Glasgow was held on 26 May, presented by Victoria Derbyshire


  • David Cameron and Nigel Farage will in turn answer questions from a studio audience in a live programme on 7 June
  • Live TV referendum debate between figures from both sides of the campaign on 9 June. Line-up yet to be announced


  • Two live shows featuring David Cameron on 2 June and Leave campaigner and Justice Secretary Michael Gove on 3 June
  • Each show includes a face-to-face live interview and a question-and-answer session in front of a studio audience

Channel 4

  • Debate on 22 June, the day before the referendum, featuring "politicians, opinion formers and other high-profile pro and anti-protagonists"

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