The Environment Secretary reportedly told Cabinet ministers he would be prepared to extend Article 50 again, warning that a no deal exit risks a general election that could put Jeremy Corbyn into power. A source told The Sunday Telegraph: “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.”
Warnings about Mr Corbyn’s rise to power were made by Sajid Javid, but his angle was slightly different to that of Mr Gove’s. In yesterday’s Daily Mail, the Home Secretary warned that Jeremy Corbyn could become the Prime Minister if Britain did not leave the EU on October 31 as a failure to deliver Brexit could lead to a distrust in politics.
Mr Gove campaigned for the official Vote Leave movement ahead of the 2016 EU referendum alongside Boris Johnson, but the pair now find themselves in vastly differing positions on the issue.
The Environment Secretary’s cautious strategy has won the support of remain Cabinet ministers, while Amber Rudd is apparently considering whether to back Mr Gove after she failed to support Boris Johnson’s leadership bid due to his insistence to pull the nation out of the EU with or without a deal.
A Cabinet minister also told the newspaper, Mr Gove could become the fallback option if he made it to the second round and candidates like Health Secretary Matt Hancock didn’t.
The minister said: “It’s important that there’s a good showing for those like Matt who are taking the most pragmatic view and those who have set out most honestly the consequences of no deal.
“As the process goes on Michael Gove becomes the compromise candidate. You will see people falling behind Michael Gove. He is capable and he is clear about the choices open to us.”
Mr Gove’s comments mean he is the first leadership candidate to say that the UK cannot leave without a deal on October 31.
Several candidates such as Mr Johnson, Dominic Raab, Esther Mcvey and Andrea Leadsom have moved towards backing a no deal after the party haemorrhaged support in the European elections.
Brexiteer Tories left the party in their droves to support Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party, while remain voters went to the Liberal Democrats to register the worst result for the Conservative Party in a nation-wide election since the party was founded.
Fellow candidate and former leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, revealed her three-point plan for a managed no deal Brexit that would see the country leave the EU in October.
The plan would see legislation brought in before the summer on issues involving citizens rights before preparations on the Northern Ireland border and custom agreements are ramped up.
The leadership race will begin when Theresa May resigns from office on June 7.