Six cabinet members have come out against David Cameron by supporting the Vote Leave campaign.
The prime minister today announced the EU referendum will take place on the 23rd June after securing a deal with 27 EU leaders to change the UK’s relationship with EU. Shortly after Cameron’s announcement, the ‘Brexit Gang’ posed for photos at the Vote for Leave headquarters.
The ‘gang of six’ includes Michael Gove, the justice secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, John Whittingdale, the culture secretary, Chris Grayling, the leader of the Commons, Theresa Villers, the Northern Ireland secretary and Priti Patel, the employment minister. There have been several rumours for the last few weeks as to who will break the ranks with the Prime Minister’s in campaign. The majority of the ‘six member gang’ are not political household names but will add intellectual weight to the out campaign. Michael Gove joining the out campaign, was not anticipated by number 10 and is seen as a blow to Cameron. One politician that political commentators are keeping an eye as to which side he will support is Boris Johnson. If Boris was to join the Brexit Camp, this could be real trouble for the in campaign and a coup for the Vote Leave campaigners. The London Mayor’s position is unclear as he has stated that Cameron must do more to convince him on staying in the EU. Boris Johnson is apparently playing the waiting game until Cameron outlines plans to reassert parliament sovereignty.Boris is popular and will win people over which ever side he decides to join. Until we find out which side Boris will back, let us look at the rebels:
Michael Gove- Justice Secretary
Michael Gove is one of Cameron’s closest political allies however Gove said if he campaigned with Cameron to stay in the EU he would not be “true to my convictions or country’. The justice secretary said it was one of the hardest political decisions he has had to make and added that Britain would be “freer, fairer and better off outside the EU”. The prime minister said yesterday that he was “disappointed but not surprised” that his loyal friend decided to support the Vote Leave campaign.
Iain Duncan Smith-Work and pensions secretary
There is no surprise here, Iain Duncan Smith is a long-standing Eurosceptic. He was one of the Maastricht rebels too.
Theresa Villers-Northern Ireland Secretary
The Northern Ireland Secretary represented London as a Eurosceptic MEP, so no surprise here again that she decides to support the out campaign.
Priti Patel-Employment minister
The MP for Witham has been a long time supporter of Brexit as she was the former communications chief of the Referendum party. She has said in the past that the country wants “less Europe more Britain”.
John Whittingdale-Culture secretary
The former Thatcher aide is a committed Eurosceptic and it was known he would back the outers.
Chris Grayling-Leader of the House of Commons
Chris Grayling, is a long-standing Eurosceptic and said that the deal that the Prime Minister had won in Brussels was not enough to transform the UK’s relationship with the EU. Grayling argued Cameron, “has undoubtedly made some progress but what he has discovered over the last couple of days is the limitations of change that we can secure within the European Union”. He further added that the EU does not give the UK control over its own borders and for that reason he will be supporting the Vote Leave campaign.