UK would thrive outside the EU: Michael Gove


The UK would thrive as a member of the European free trade zone without being bound by restrictions imposed from Brussels if the country backed Brexit, Michael Gove said, as he set out his vision of life outside the EU.

The Vote Leave campaign chief said it was "ridiculous" and "preposterous" to suggest that European Union leaders would attempt to block trading links with the UK after the June 23 referendum.

The Justice Secretary also insisted that David Cameron would be prevented from carrying out his plan to trigger the two-year timetable to quit the EU immediately if Leave won, as "no responsible government" would do that.

Tory Cabinet minister Mr Gove warned that the UK would be held "hostage" by Brussels if it voted Remain, as he claimed the Prime Minister's efforts to block "ever closer union" would not halt the process of closer integration.

Under Vote Leave's plans, the UK would secure a "unique" deal after Brexit, enjoying a tariff-free trade agreement but without accepting free movement of EU citizens, paying into the Brussels budget or being bound by the European Court of Justice.

Setting out his plan at Vote Leave's headquarters in London, Mr Gove said: "The core of our new arrangement with the EU is clear.

"There is a free trade zone stretching from Iceland to Turkey that all European nations have access to, regardless of whether they are in or out of the euro or EU.

"After we vote to leave we will remain in this zone."

It was not credible to suggest that Britain - alongside Belarus - would be kept out of the zone.

"Agreeing to maintain this continental free trade zone is the simple course and emphatically in everyone's interests."

He added: "The idea that the German government would damage its car manufacturers - and impoverish workers in those factories - to make a political point about Britain's choices; or the French government would ignore its farmers - and damage their welfare - to strike a pose; or the Italian government would undermine its struggling industries just to please Brussels... well, that is ridiculous."

Brexit could spell the end for the EU as it currently exists, Mr Gove suggested - with the UK's decision spreading a "contagion" of democracy across the continent.