Brexit would 'liberate' people across EU: minister

19th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

A British vote to leave the European Union would "liberate" people across the continent by giving them the courage to demand change, a senior minister backing a so-called Brexit said Tuesday.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove, a member of Prime Minister David Cameron's Cabinet, said a decision to leave the 28-member bloc in the June referendum would show that "a different Europe is possible".

"Our vote to leave will liberate and strengthen those voices across the EU calling for a different future -- those demanding the devolution of powers back from Brussels and desperate for a progressive alternative," he said.

Gove added: "For Britain, voting to leave will be a galvanising, liberating, empowering moment of patriotic renewal.

"For Europe, Britain voting to leave will be the beginning of something potentially even more exciting -- the democratic liberation of a whole continent."

Gove said many Europeans were "profoundly unhappy" with the EU, referring to the Dutch rejection this month of a European pact with Ukraine and votes against the doomed European constitution in the 2000s.

Many of their concerns had been ignored, he said, adding that this approach "will not survive the assertion of deep democratic principle that would be the British people voting to leave".

Gove is one of over 100 lawmakers in Cameron's Conservative party who are campaigning against the prime minister ahead of the June 23 vote, in an increasingly heated debate.

A report from the finance ministry on Monday said Britain's economy could be six percentage points smaller than it would otherwise have been by 2030 if it leaves.

Brexit supporters dismissed the study as "flimsy", and Gove warned that the campaign "treats people like children, unfit to be trusted and easily scared by ghost stories".

He acknowledged that a "Leave" vote might "enrage and disorientate EU elites" but rejected suggestions that EU leaders could punish Britain for its departure by imposing damaging trade barriers.

While acknowledging that Britain may not be part of the single market post-Brexit, Gove said: "It is in their own interests to maintain the current free trade arrangements they enjoy with the UK."

© 2016 AFP

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