No, Mr Gove, the Withdrawal Agreement is not a good idea on any count

Mr Gove used to be in favour of Leave. Now we puts out the worst kind of Project Fear nonsense and seeks to prevent us leaving for at least another 2 years and maybe double that.

I have some straightforward questions for him:

1. When will he and Dr Fox publish the UK tariff schedule for March 30 2019 to trade under WTO rules? Our farmers and traders need to know now.
2. Will our tariff schedule set tariffs that are lower and fewer in number than we currently have to impose under EU rules?
3. What is the right balance between cutting tariffs on food to help the consumer, and keeping some tariff protection which will offer some protection against European imports for the first time?
4. What increase in UK market share in temperate foods is he aiming for once we do impose some tariffs on EU competitors?
5. Is he now going to write food production in as a central aim of his White Paper and legislation?
6. Is he going to keep environmental and health and safety and animal welfare levels the same as at present when we decide or is he going to legislate to improve them?
7. When will he announce a fishing policy that takes back control of our fishing grounds and allows our home based industry to expand?

Brexit is huge opportunity to cut food miles, grow more of our own food, to rescue our fishing grounds and land more of our own fish, and to build bigger food processing industries close to good agricultural supply. That requires the Secretary of State to stop trying to delay Brexit and stop trying top scare us, and to get on with making some decisions and putting through legislation that will be good for UK farming and fishing.


  1. Peter Wood
    January 4, 2019

    Good Morning,

    Dr. Redwood, commendable points all but you waste time on Mr. Gove; he is of similar character to one T Blair in that he can make an argument for any position that he thinks will advance his personal cause. He is amoral.

    I see Mr. Davis may, or may not depending on publication, be suggesting a further delay of the Meaningful Vote, a good idea since we don’t need ANY more legislation regarding membership of the EU. May I suggest a new date of 1st April 2019?

    It should clear now that a worldwide recession is coming, it is also clear that making an ex-gratia payment to the EU of £39 Billion + + of money that will be sorely needed by the UK in the next few years, would be absolute madness, and only delay the day the EU falls apart.

    1. Hope
      January 4, 2019

      Peter, Davis did not say what is claimed, read Guido for the full quote.

    2. Hope
      January 4, 2019

      Why has it taken this long for Gove, the week before the debate, to come out with this rot? Why did he not consider it before and put in place all facts and consider what needed to be done to address it? It strikes me he has failed his duty and ought to resign.

      1. Adam
        January 5, 2019

        It is strange that Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom & Penny Mordaunt remain as Cabinet members where there is support for Theresa May’s defective Withdrawal Agreement. As previously-leading Brexiteers their underlying reasoning for accepting change to the worse needs revealing.

  2. Mark B
    January 4, 2019

    Good morning.

    One senses our kind hosts frustration. I am sure that if he was in Michael Gove MP place no one would be asking for the UK’s tariff schedule as it would have been published long ago.

    When will he and Dr Fox publish the UK tariff schedule . . .

    The simple answer to that is, they won’t ! That is because their is not one. Well there is, but that is set by the EU, and we all know why we will be following that ? 😉

    As I keep saying. Despite a referendum and a subsequent GE, we have MP’s who do not want to fulfill the will of the people. There is only one solution to this – another, Peoples’ GE. Only this time MP’s can stand on either a Leave or Remain ticket.

    1. Bob
      January 4, 2019

      @Mark B

      “MP’s can stand on either a Leave or Remain ticket.”

      They did that in 2017, and then promptly forgot their manifesto pledges once elected.

      1. Mark B
        January 4, 2019

        They stood on many issues and it was a party manifesto. I am saying it should be just an MP’s manifesto.

    2. Timaction
      January 4, 2019

      A Peoples general election with a leave or remain ticket would resolve the impasse and clean the swamp at the same time.

      1. Mark B
        January 4, 2019


  3. oldtimer
    January 4, 2019

    Good questions! Reiteration of project fear in any of its multiple guises does not provide answers. It merely seeks to kick the can down the road, resolving nothing. May’s negotiating incompetence has wasted two years and resulted in a dud deal which parliament should reject.

    1. Lifelogic
      January 4, 2019

      Far more than two years. Cameron promised an in/out referendum in 2013 and then again in the 2015 manifesto. The only/main reason he won a small majority. Preparation should have started back then it was gross negligence not to. So well over five years ago. This was gross negligence by Cameron and May.

      May now seems determined to bury the party for good with her appalling non Brexit deal. Cameron after all could only win a small Majority (with this referendum promise) and he was far less despised than the visionless, dope, Theresa May. She will bury the party unless she is stopped & removed.

      1. Bob
        January 4, 2019


        ” the visionless, dope, Theresa May. She will bury the party unless she is stopped & removed.”

        The majority of Tory MPs support Mrs May and want to remain in the EU at any cost.

        If the confidence vote were open to ordinary members she would be gone by now. The Lib Dems have colonised the Tory Party.

  4. Al
    January 4, 2019

    Regarding your points, as a business we’ve already have contigency plans for the highest tarrifs coming in with those few countries we deal with where it may affect trade, but the effect is negligible for businesses which already do most of their trade outside the EU.

    However this schedule would be very necessary for direct retailers e.g. signalling supermarkets to seek domestic alternatives to current food suppliers and therefore boost the economy. This would contradict Project Fear so the government won’t do it.

  5. Steve Pitts
    January 4, 2019

    The fact is the Government and the EU di not actually believe we are leaving with no deal and some of them want to make sure it goes wrong so at the last minute we do some kind of deal slightly modified if necessary or beg to not leave. So they don’t want really to make leaving with no deal easy. It is why the EU won’t change this deal so far. That is why they won’t announce such good policies as these as they still want leaving with no deal to appear a disaster and to be very difficult. Many Members of Parliament would also did anything to block a no deal and make it appear a cliff edge as they call it.

  6. Lifelogic
    January 4, 2019

    You are exactly right.

    Gove is also the reason we are suffering from the dreadful T May after his back stabbing of Boris members would have never chosen May. Yesterday radio 4 gave us a long (what would you like to say next Sir) type of interview with long silent Ben Gummer. No balance from anyone pro Brexit was provided. Gummer was the person who gave us the “vote for us and we will kick you in the teeth” manifesto and so threw away May’s majority. He is the son of the endless pusher of climate alarmism & green crap and “consultant” to this absurdly tax payer subsidised and largely parasitic industry.

    Gummer has a starred double first (history Peterhouse Cambridge). He is certain that the “physics” of a WTO Brexit are that we will be poorer. “There are some ideas that are so stupid only intellectuals can believe in them” as Orwell put it I think. How on earth in the long term will allowing the country to be run by unelected, socialist, EU bureaucrats with no real interest in the Uk and whom we cannot remove make us richer?

    The EU have certainly made a complete mess of almost everything so far. CAP, the Common fishing policy, the ERM, Energy production, the EURO, the green crap, refuse collection, tax levels, migration ….. His voters know far better than he does, they were strongly pro Brexit and ejected him at the last election.

    His dreadful manifesto did however promise a real Brexit. How could he honourable stand on this basis with his hugely pro EU views? Indeed how could May, Hammond and the rest of the let’s stop a real Brexit “Tory” traitors? I could never vote for anyone who votes for May’s deal or indeed supports the idiotic climate change act.

  7. Tory Western
    January 4, 2019

    Mr Gove knows the calamity that will hit if we leave the EU without a deal, and as a responsible member of the government he is actively taking steps to ensure we get a deal – the very good deal Mrs May has negotiated, which will keep us close to the EU and able to enjoy many of the trading benefits we currently enjoy. You, accepting no responsibility and carping from the sidelines, are not helping Mr Gove or Mrs May. But you are helping Mr Corbyn.

    1. Alan Jutson
      January 4, 2019

      Tory Western

      Clearly you have absolutely no idea on what the EU have planned for the future to make such a comment.
      Single tax rates for all, Single budgets for all, Single immigration policy for all, European Army, and with May’s agreement we have absolutely no say whatsoever.

      Utter madness.

    2. Bob
      January 4, 2019

      @Tory Western

      “Mr Gove knows the calamity that will hit if we leave the EU without a deal”

      Leaving without a “deal” actually means moving to WTO terms. It’s not a calamity and it works well for the rest of the world. The prospect of WTO terms would concentrate the minds of the EU27 if the British govt would only grow a backbone. With Mrs May in charge there is no reason for Brussels to negotiate, because she’s doing it for them.

      If you want a deal, prepare for no deal.

    3. Beecee
      January 4, 2019

      And pigs might fly and the cow jumped over the Moon……..

    4. Know-Dice
      January 4, 2019

      May be you should read the “Withdrawal Agreement” cover to cover before making a judgement as to whether it’s a good deal for the UK.

      And bear in mind the “Political Declaration” is a wish list that will never be delivered – the EU has track record on NOT honouring these type of arrangements.

    5. Hope
      January 4, 2019

      Stupid ill informed comment to say the least.

    6. john mchugh
      January 4, 2019

      What calamity.
      Our growing national debt is fuelled by year on year budget deficits plus interest on said debt. We are in a race to the bottom INSIDE the Eu.
      You want more austerity ?
      Leaving the Eu us a chance to move from an unproductive workforce based on cheap.lanout to a more dynamic technology-driven workforce, something we are good at.

    7. Edward2
      January 4, 2019

      You could not be more wrong. TW.
      Firstly it is not a deal. That comes many years later.
      Secondly if this Withdrawal agreement passes then the Conservative Party will lose the next election.

    8. Susan Saberton
      January 4, 2019

      PM and remain MP’s are helping Mr Corbyn. PM didn’t negotiate the none deal, it was dictated to and presented by the EU as a ‘you’re staying in the EU deal’. The WA is a rotten deal to punish us and any others who want to leave. The leave MP’s, such as John Redwood, are the ones who are trying to respect the the largest democratic, single vote in history, to leave the EU properly.

    9. Dennis Zoff
      January 4, 2019


      Not sure your comment is deliciously funny satire or you actually believe the WA is a good thing for the UK? Which is it?

      Oh, and while you are at it, perhaps you could eruditly explain which EU trading benefits are essential for the UK, in light of the grossly expensive membership fee and the enormous trading deficit?

    10. Denis Cooper
      January 4, 2019

      That will be the “very good deal” to keep us under the thumb of the EU in perpetuity, as Theresa May and you both wish … and I suppose you do realise that “the trading benefits we currently enjoy” include a thumping great trade deficit?

    11. Iain Crew
      January 4, 2019

      I can imagine that one of the benefits you see in the EU is the Free Trade. The only problem with that is that the word “Free” is but an illusion

      The UK is the second highest contributor to the EU and, although we do get a Rebate we are still 2nd highest contributor.
      We also give to the UK a substantial share of our VAT Receipts less administrative costs. As the UK is a huge Net Importer that means the UK People are paying VAT on EU goods AND that VAT is going to the EU by the shedload. Keyser Soze would admire this.
      Similarly, the UK has to apply tariffs set by the EU on goods from our largest WTO Trade Partner, the USA, and our other WTO-only trade partners and most of these duties-paid (by the the British Customer) are paid over to the EU.

      The UK is a Net Exporter to many WTO countries not tied to any Political Union as the UK is with the EU. That trade is to our mutual benefit and can be made even better if we are free to agree tariff-free conditions the EU membership prevents us from agreeing.

      The Withdrawal Agreement simply puts the UK into a stasis from which we cannot leave without EU consent, prevents the UK from signing off any trade deals indefinitely and there is no compunction upon the EU to give the UK anything like a good free trade deal as we, currently, pay the EU huge amounts of dosh to have so called free trade within the EEA.

      The sooner we leave, take the short term pain and people realise how they have been conned by the EU the better …The withdrawal Agreement merely prolongs the stupidity of being in the EU/EEA that the British have been hoodwinked into believing is good for the UK

    12. rose
      January 4, 2019

      The surest way to a Corbyn government is for Mrs May to be allowed to foul up Brexit.

  8. Nigl
    January 4, 2019

    Michael Gove is Theresa May’s poodle repaying her for bringing him back into government after being a naughty boy. His pronouncements are becoming increasingly hysterical and further and further from reality.

    1. Mitchel
      January 4, 2019

      A Matryoshka doll with Mr Gove’s image on the outside but what would we find as we remove the layers one by one?

  9. Lifelogic
    January 4, 2019

    It is surely further gross negligence for the May/Hammond Government plus Gove & Fox not to have done all of the points on JR’s list above.

    Under 90 days to go now after all.

  10. DaveF
    January 4, 2019

    We all know that Gove blows with the wind, he has his eye on that top job so what he says is all part of his being ‘confident, pragmatic, forward looking, positive’ and all that old tosh.

    The government has no tariff schedule published either because it doesn’t really believe we are going to leave to a no deal- it’s all in the plan to get the WA vote out of the way so we have an agreement or we don’t, then if we don’t to move on to another vote as to whether to rescind /Stop A50. The last thing the majority in the house wants is to go to crash out to WTO- and that’s the bottom line- so it’s not in the plan

    1. old salt
      January 4, 2019

      DaveF – Very well put. It would appear from day one they “will do what it takes” to not leave. Why would we be any different from other countries that have voted the wrong way? Just what sort of democracy do we have or not?

    2. john mchugh
      January 4, 2019

      Dave I
      “Crash out?”

  11. jerry
    January 4, 2019

    As I said before, DEFRA is as much a problem for UK farmers as is the EU.

    Time for reform, to create a less diverse department, a return to a more targeted MAFF perhaps?

    Listen to only DEFRA, the NFU and the MSM you might be forgiven to think that there is 100% opposition to Brexit from the UK farming industry (and its direct support industries), that is very far from the case. Mr Gove need to get out of the office more, travel the country actually talking with real farmers, not just those in tweed jackets and tie who manage ‘mega-farms’ -often from afar.

  12. Dave Andrews
    January 4, 2019

    With regard to taking back control of our fishing, what happens to foreign firms who have legally purchased quota from UK fishermen who have decided to put their feet up rather than fish? As they own EU quota, will that become invalid and their investment loses all its value, will they be compensated or will their quota ownership be respected?

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      January 4, 2019

      Becomes invalid is my guess. The EU no longer has the right to quotas.

      1. Nigl
        January 4, 2019

        Some of our 40 odd billion can compensate/buy them out

    2. Know-Dice
      January 4, 2019

      One would hope that there were some “weasel words” written in to what ever was sold.

      In future those that take up fishing licences should not be able to sell them on if they chose not to use them.

    3. Alan Jutson
      January 4, 2019

      Dave Andrews

      Most agreements have an end date and I would guess that would stand any legal challenge.

      I cannot imagine any commercial agreement would be in perpetuity, so thus when it ends, it ends.

  13. agrictola
    January 4, 2019

    Gove is a chancer,only interested in wbat is good for Gove. As he has been sussed as a gadfly few have faith in anything he says or does. Anyone clinging to May’s skirt at this stage is toxic for future advancement.

    1. Sir Joe Soap
      January 4, 2019

      I said before and say again, this man has lost all credibility and should be taken no notice of.

    2. Turboterrier
      January 4, 2019


      Very well said. If Gove wants to get any real credibility back he needs to resign and go and spend a few years in the political wilderness and do some deep soul searching on his past record. Then and only then will the electorate possibly change its views on him being a back stabbing, self centred glory hunter.

  14. MickN
    January 4, 2019

    Michael Gove is my MP and I am utterly ashamed of the way he has become part of the sell out.

    1. A.Sedgwick
      January 4, 2019

      Unless Nigel Farage stands against him next time, you are stuck with him.

    2. Bob
      January 4, 2019


      “Michael Gove is my MP and I am utterly ashamed of the way he has become part of the sell out.”

      You should write to him or attend his Surgery.

    3. Duyfken
      January 4, 2019

      I hope you keep on emailing him with your views, as indeed I am doing to my local (remainer) MP. In my latest epistle to the latter this morning, I have included JR’s list of questions to Gove, just in case he were somehow to miss reading it.

    4. Hope
      January 4, 2019

      Go and tell him to his face.

  15. Bryan Harris
    January 4, 2019

    Gove is the ultimate politician – with no views or passions of his own, he moves with the wind and utters the last thing he overheard …

    The government is supposed to be fully prepared for Brexit, so why hasn’t he published all these details?

  16. Bryan Harris
    January 4, 2019

    The BBC is publishing one scare story per day now, without challenging any assumptions – Latest is from universities:

    “Higher education leaders have written to MPs to say it is “no exaggeration” to warn that it would take universities “decades to recover”.

    None of the complaints make any sense, but that’s how these people operate.

    1. Bob
      January 4, 2019

      @Bryan Harris

      “The BBC is publishing one scare story per day now, without challenging any assumptions “

      The only person at the BBC who would dare to do such a thing is Andrew Neil, and for this reason I suspect that his prospects in the organisation are severely limited.

    2. Andy
      January 4, 2019

      On the contrary. People who run universities know more about universities than you do. And they are telling MPs about the serious threat your Brexit poses. Just because you are either too stubborn or too stupid to listen is not their fault.

      It is just another piece of evidence which will be used at the inevitable public inquiry into Brexit to ensure those responsible are held to account and are brought to justice. Civil servants are keeping meticulous notes – knowing that when the blame comes (which it will) they do not want to be the ones found guilty.

      1. zorro
        January 4, 2019

        On what charge exactly?


      2. Bryan Harris
        January 5, 2019

        On the contrary – the Universities are full of remoaning socialists that will do anything to kill Brexit….

        As for their alleged problems – The important ones have been discussed and dismissed here, and there is no reason why any should become an issue.

  17. Sir Joe Soap
    January 4, 2019

    Glad that you’re ahead of the curve, while Gove and Co. are still stuck in a groove, like a vinyl record going round and round.

    Perhaps we should put some scare stories around about staying in an EU with Italian banks going bust and being rescued with our money, Turkey still in an association agreement and ready to take our car manufacturing jobs while we sit in a tariff prison.

    1. Fed up
      January 4, 2019

      Someone should. Of course the BBC would not mention them but several papers would, as might Sky.

  18. Newmania
    January 4, 2019

    The – tariff on our lamb exports, if we cannot secure a deal is 40%
    Wales is facing Farmergeddon- you heard it here first !

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 4, 2019

      Nope, I heard it elsewhere before the referendum, along with an awful lot of other one-sided misinformation from the likes of David Cameron, such as here:

      That was in March 2016, and although he mentioned dairy products, beef and lamb the latter is in fact the only one of the three where we export more to the rest of the EU than we import from them, one of the few items of food and drink for which we usually have a trade surplus with the EU.

      Taken from this comment in April 2017:

      “Britain buys more than double (€40bn) the agricultural produce from Europe than it sells to it (€16bn), something that also holds true individually for poultry, pork, beef and dairy.”

      Taking food and drink together, EU exports to the UK were €35.5 billion in 2015, while UK exports to the EU were only €13.89 billion.

      You must have forgotten that it is only because we have a net reliance on food from the EU that Theresa May can threaten to starve us by holding up imports if MPs do not support her treacherous ‘deal’.

      While in contrast the Irish will not starve, because:

      “… their Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has just promised that “no one will go hungry” in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.”

      It’s difficult to decide but I’m now thinking this may be the most disgusting British government of my lifetime, against some very stiff competition.

    2. a-tracy
      January 4, 2019

      Carolyn Lucas MP and the vegan/vegetarians will be estactic, she’s been pushing for meat taxes to cut down on meat purchasing,

  19. Shieldsman
    January 4, 2019

    I cannot add anything to the views expressed on Michael Gove. He is a conformist.

  20. Shieldsman
    January 4, 2019

    Fear of the NO DEAL BREXIT they have been party to causing, are mounting in Eire.

  21. caroline scott
    January 4, 2019

    Agree with first comment about Gove been transparently another Blair but nonetheless it’s good to call this out so voters can see this duplicity.

  22. JoolsB
    January 4, 2019

    Gove, Fox, Leadsom! Mordaunt have all conveniently ditched their pro Brexit beliefs and the great future this country is capable of free of the schackles of the EU in return for 20 pieces of silver. Hopefully their ministerial cars and a seat at the cabinet table will be short lived and never again must they get anywhere near the levers of power for their treachery. And that includes Hammond and May as well.

  23. Andy
    January 4, 2019

    I have a bit more time for Mr Gove than I do for most Brexiteers.

    Despite starting this pyrotechnic mess he has at least demonstrated the capacity to learn.

    While it is embarrassing clear that most Tory MPs never figured out what the single market and customs union are, Mr Gove at least did.

    He still supports Brexit but appears to be a realist – unlike any of the Europhobes.

    He realises there is huge capacity for Brexit to go wrong – putting large numbers of farmers out of business and leaving us short of food.

    It is criminally negligent of MPs to ignore such advice from a Cabinet ministers. And I believe any MPs who do will ultimately be brought to justice.

    It will be ironic if Brexit voting farmers go bust because of your Brexit. Perhaps they might want to rethink their vote? And when food prices rise those who suffer the most are the poorest, who backed Brexit. They might want to think again too. I can afford to eat and feed my family regardless. Good luck to all of you. I hope you can.

    1. Edward2
      January 4, 2019

      If you stay in the Customs Union and the Single market you are then bound by the European Court of Justice.
      Not only that the UK cannot negotiate any trade deal with any other country.

      Therefore for all practical purposes you remain in the EU.

      Why will farmers go bust?
      The Govt has said repeatedly it will support farming with a similar amount of money as they currently get.
      Do you not realise that CAP costs an average family over £20 per week in increased food costs.
      Without CAP and with low or zero tariffs on food imports prices will fall.

    2. libertarian
      January 7, 2019


      As, so far, you have been totally and utterly wrong about everything youve posted I think ignoring your ramblings is probably best .

      You predict armageddon for the UK but remain strangely silent about what is ACTUALLY happening right now in the EU. Why is that?

      Collapsing economic growth, Euro problems, riots every weekend , wow look what we will be missing when we leave

  24. P. B. Clarke
    January 4, 2019

    Tweet every question you’ve made with a link to here!

  25. LondonBob
    January 4, 2019

    I shan’t put what I think of Gove and his backers as I doubt it will be published, but I have always looked on at his support for Brexit and asked what are the real reasons he is backing leave.

  26. Caterpillar
    January 4, 2019

    This blog summary of what has been submitted to WTO has recently (21st December) been updated.

    I would suggest the immediate question to Govt, and before the WA vote, is;

    1) Given a ‘managed no deal’ when will UK tariffs be different to those of the EU?

  27. Alan Jutson
    January 4, 2019

    Mr Gove

    How the so called mighty have fallen, he is making a fool of himself, but has yet to understand that fact.

    May asked for loyalty, but afraid he has now lost the plot completely.

    Me thinks he needs some serious time on the back benches, or out of politics altogether, to view some of his past ideals.

    Amazing how many politicians when their time has come to finish in politics (usually by being voted out) sound so sensible years later when they actually tell the truth of their own thoughts and ideals, but had put them to one side at the time, for Party Political/Ministerial reasons.

  28. oldwulf
    January 4, 2019

    Mr Gove has a very safe seat, which voted 51/49 in favour of leave. He therefore believes that he can operate with relative impunity and focus on his aim of the top job.

  29. Brian Tomkinson
    January 4, 2019

    You won’t receive any answers to your pertinent questions. Gove is the worst kind of unprincipled politician. Sadly, he is not alone. I have a strong feeling that most MPs regard the people, those from whom their authority is entrusted, with contempt. It is Parliament against the people and our very democracy is at stake.

  30. ian wragg
    January 4, 2019

    It is reported that Brussels will give further assurances that the backstop will not be permanent. Of course it won’t define temporary and it won’t be legally watertight in the treaty.
    The WA is only one of 40 reasons as the Spectator listed as to why the WA is nonsense. I believe it is illegal as it gives superior rights over UK citizens, overseen by a foreign court.
    This wouldn’t stand up to a judicial revue.

    Reply The most credible way to show neither side want to use the backstop is to take it out of the Agreement. It would still be a bad agreement

  31. Atlas
    January 4, 2019

    Indeed John, these are pertinent questions that the SoS should be addressing now.

    Mr. Gove’s pronouncements do not cut much ice in the Atlas household after he undermined Mr. Johnson. I cannot see how ‘we can sort it out later’ works with the humiliating terms of a legally binding Treaty – perhaps Mr. Gove would do us the courtesy of enlightening us lesser mortals.

  32. Ronald Olden
    January 4, 2019

    Perhaps they’re not publishing a ‘tariff schedule’ because they’re not planning any taxes on trade.

    Some of us voted to leave the EU to get rid of taxes on trade, not to impose them. Doing so would be breach of trust with many Leave voters.

    I wouldn’t have voted Leave if I’d believed there’d be even more tariffs than we already have.

    In any case, even if it they were planning and of the taxes John Redwood wants, it would be as colossally stupid to publish them now as it was to publish the legal advice on the Withdrawal Agreement.

    There is no ‘balance’ to be achieved between by ‘protecting’ of producer vested interests as opposed and competitive trade. Protectionism and sabotaging consumer choice is a bad thing. Full Stop.

    No Mr Gove is not going to ‘write food production as central aim of the legislation’. Getting access to the biggest choice of food at the cheapest prices is the aim of policy.

    Neither is it the aim of policy to ‘expand the UK fishing industry’. The aim is to use UK’s tradeable fishing rights to best effect for the UK as whole.

    The Secretary of State is not trying to ‘delay Brexit’. If Brexit is delayed or stopped altogether we will have the obtuse tactics adopted by certain allegedly Leave supporting MPs to thank for it.

    Having said that, if we end up with the degree of Protectionism, State Direction, and interference in competition that John Redwood and Jeremy Corbyn favour, we might be better off not Leaving at all.

  33. MikeP
    January 4, 2019

    As he talks of uncertainty, you might add to your questions for Mr Gove the following:

    – how much more “uncertain” can things get when we don’t have a clue what trading terms will apply from 30th March since the current non-deal cannot possibly pass the HoC?

    – what further uncertainty are you prepared to impose on UK farmers and businesses in what would inevitably be another long, drawn out negotiation right to the wire, for at least two years of the transition period, probablylonger?

    The simplest way to provide “certainty” is to publish WTO tariff schedules that can and will operate from 30th March. We know from the past two years that getting any sort of acceptable EU trading deal will take years, whereas we can agree bi-lateral deals globally in the meantime to help our businesses grow.

  34. SecretPeople
    January 4, 2019

    Story in the Times today: “No-deal Brexit will be nightmare for farmers, warns Michael Gove”.

    Surely it is his job to make sure it isn’t, by addressing points 1 – 7 above. It’s not as if there hasn’t been 2.5 years to prepare.

  35. ferdinand
    January 4, 2019

    Mr.Gove also said that “The perfect should not be the enemy of the good.” What arrant nonsense. The exact opposite is true. Putting up with less than the best has been the cause of failure of UK industry over the years and handed business to our competitors. What a sad statement by a minister supposedly in favour of our leaving the EU and thriving on our own. We should shun the good and acceptable, and aim only for the best.

  36. Lorna
    January 4, 2019

    All I will,say about Michael Gove is he has long since abandoned his credentials as a Brexiteer
    The questions you ask are very reasonable .Gove is threatening the farmers with high tariffs
    as stated by WTO but these are maximum tariffs which are unlikely to be put in operation .The UK should charge zero tariffs for a limited period and the subsequent schedule should only charge modest tariffs on some goods
    Under the WTO rules the EU can not penalize U.K. ! Remembering that the UK is a major importer of E.U goods It is unlikely thatGerman car makers or Spanish fruit and vegetable suppliers would wish to lose a lucrative market .It is likely the E U will,agree a reciprocal tariff schedule
    Is it not the case that under WTO the current agreements with EU will remain in place for two years ?

    Fox and Gove are being unfair to threaten without stating what exactly they have in mind
    What a sad day for Brexiteers who put their faith in those self serving politicians
    Thank you Sir John for your steadfastness

  37. Tony Sharp
    January 4, 2019

    Gove is clearly trying to position himself with the majority of RemaIN EU Tory MPs as successor to May as the ‘acceptable face of Brexit’ .
    I suspect that nobody in any part of the Tory Party trusts him at all.

  38. James bertram
    January 4, 2019

    ‘Brexit is huge opportunity to cut food miles, grow more of our own food, to rescue our fishing grounds and land more of our own fish, and to build bigger food processing industries close to good agricultural supply. ‘
    Top comment, John. Along with improved animal welfare, this is one of my main reasons to leave the EU. Can’t do this kind of thing if you’re compromised by 27 other countries with different priorities, climates, resources, waters and soils – we need policies much more specific to the UK; and with much more consumer support for local producers. But it needs someone with real vision and commitment to lead these policies – and that rules Gove out.

  39. NigelE
    January 4, 2019

    Mr Gove is my local MP and I’ve written to him several times asking how as a leading light in the Leave campaign, he can justify supporting the WA and other anti proper-Brexit positions he has taken since Chequers was announced. Needless to say, I’ve had no replies (other than acknowledgement of receipt) let alone a satisfactory answer.

    I’m thinking of moving to Wokingham. It’s only a few miles away.

  40. Dennis
    January 4, 2019

    So Mr Redwood, what is Gove’s response? Oh you haven’t asked him! So it is only virtue signalling. What is the point then?

    Reply I will when Parliament is back

  41. Mike of Wokingham
    January 4, 2019

    I think that Conservative infighting is going to lead to a Labour Government. Do long serving members of parliament never learn the lessons of history?

    1. Gary Tiffin
      January 4, 2019

      Mike, I agree. John Redwood was at the centre of the infighting that brought down the honourable man J Major and gave us T Blair. Now his inability to cooperate and compromise is set to bring us J Corbyn instead of T May. Redwood, and his freind J ReesMogg are the best supporters the Labour party has!

  42. Lynn Atkinson
    January 4, 2019

    Hear Hear! Get a grip Gove.

  43. Matt
    January 4, 2019

    I thought things were bad in Ireland..but unfortunately you also have more than your fair share of scoundrels and charlatans over there..we have far too many of them..we need quality not quantity

  44. Denis Cooper
    January 4, 2019

    That will be the “very good deal” to keep us under the thumb of the EU in perpetuity, as Theresa May and you both wish … and I suppose you do realise that “the trading benefits we currently enjoy” include a thumping great trade deficit?

    1. Denis Cooper
      January 4, 2019

      This was meant as a reply to Tory Western.

  45. Treacle
    January 4, 2019

    If there is anything that is good and sensible, that helps our businesses prepare for Brexit, that strengthens our negotiation position with Brussels, and that results in financial benefits or other gains for the UK, you can be sure that the government won’t do it — and will in fact do the opposite. That is what is so depressing about the government. They will not put the UK first. No one can be sure why. But their instinct is plain: to frustrate businesses, throw away the advantages that we hold in negotiating with the EU, and give away our money and fish.

  46. Edwardm
    January 4, 2019

    Agree, very much so. Just fed up with everyone in government selling us out, and people like Gove going back on their original positions.

  47. Den
    January 4, 2019

    I cannot understand why Messrs Gove and Fox have made such a grotesque U-Turn on their original Brexit principles. Unless they are party to the Top Secret, Plan B. In that case, why hide it?
    As it stands, it would now appear that neither Gove nor Fox feel that they are up to their respective jobs and have now decided to hand them over to the control of the Brussels cabal together with their Departments. As will be the case with the May Agreement.
    What has changed their minds to accept Mrs May’s disaster of a Withdrawal Agreement, which has been already condemned by her own legal adviser as well as numerous eminent Barristers of EU Law? Add on around 80% of our Parliament who will have a vote on it. Their decision defies common sense. If you ignore the advice of your experts why bother asking them?
    If you, JR, have already submitted your very valid questions to these men have you received any answer?
    Do you expect to receive one? Before March 30th? I am not joking here because I have no faith in their abilities.
    Anyone who has managed in a Private business knows that preparation is a master key to future development. So the Farmers, the Fisherfolk and most all British Firms will need this information to plan ahead. Even our suppliers overseas will need such information to prepare for dealing with their newly, “Independent” Customers and no longer with EU rules and regs.
    You have not asked for the world, just a few details on what tariffs are be paid, if any, by whom on what and when and basic future plans for our Fishing and farming industries to work to..This would never be a problem in the Private Sector because they have dedicated professionals at work. Sadly, our Public Sector, in particular those in Whitehall, are not true professionals within these tasks (Manufacturing, Fishing, Agriculture and TRADE) and should never be allowed to try to be. Solely because they are Civil Servants or Professional Politicians and have no practical experience of these specialised occupations.
    Do you JR, believe there is a secret ‘Plan B’, under the table in the Cabinet Office that is known only to Mrs May and her chosen ones?
    The only agreement I want to see now, is a ‘No Deal’ with the EU but a yes to the WTO Deal, as used by the much bigger, Rest of the World. Leave means Leave.

  48. Andy
    January 4, 2019

    I see that, on Monday, the government is planning on practicing creating lorry traffic jams in Kent to prepare for no-deal Brexit.

    This is proper laugh out loud funny. Better even than Failing Grayling’s shipless shipping company.

    Thank you Brexit. You are the comedy gift which keeps giving.

    A Conservative government is practicing creating traffic jams as a direct result of Conservative policies.

    Brilliant. You are so staggeringly unelectable

    1. Edward2
      January 4, 2019

      Yet whist in the EU there have been regular jams and lorry stacking incidents on the roads leading to Channel ports like Dover due to industrial action by ferry and port and customs unions and farmers in the EU.
      But that’s all OK for you Andy.

    2. Fedupsoutherner
      January 5, 2019

      Andy, actually, you are the comedy gift. Some of the comments to your posts are hilarious. Steve always makes me laugh when he talks about you.

    3. libertarian
      January 7, 2019


      We’ve no idea why they need to practice this as we’ve had it for the last 20 years whilst in the EU

      Anyhow you never answer my questions about the fact that you told us you had to shut down your business and sack all the staff due to your inability to manage Brexit , why is that?

  49. James Snell
    January 4, 2019

    Gove is just Gove, he comes across as a man of the people, has an answer for everything, according to himself he’s being positive, pragmatic, forward looking, even goes for pretend’ what an ace..we’d be so lucky to see him in No.10 – he thinks!

  50. John Barleycorn
    January 4, 2019

    It is easy to say what you are against, but I challenge you to say what you are for in the event of a no-deal. You ask for published tariffs, but do you want those tariffs to be? Some of your fellow Brexiteers call for zero tariffs. Some call for existing tariffs. Some call for greater protection for some UK food producers yet some call for us to join the Cairns group for the benefit of UK consumers. Which will it be?
    It also has to be remembered that the WTO has to agree our tariff schedules, and currently our free trade friends in the Cairns Group are not playing nicely and have opposed our initial schedules. WTO is not ‘do whatever you want’ so how will your ideas be greeted by the WTO members?

    The same can be said about animal welfare and food standards. How much are we willing to compromise our welfare and food safety standards for free trade? Would the talked-of trade deal with the USA allow the import of hormone treated beef and milk? If so, how are UK farmers to compete with USA production if they are denied access to this modern farming technology?

    1. John Barleycorn
      January 5, 2019

      Still under moderation eh? Are my questions any harder than yours to Mr Gove?

  51. BR
    January 4, 2019

    Gove is hard to read. He seems to think he has a cunning plan to get some kind of Brexit through, but when you look at the outcomes… he’s nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is.

    Stopping Boris being leader, supporting May’s deal (presumably because he fears no-Brexit). All stupidity of the first order.

    What he fails to see is that even if the useless toads that make up 90% of the current Parliament, with the connivance of the little goblin, manage to thwart Brexit, that won’t e the end of it. The backlash will be immense – all those people are not simply going t0 go away and accept that as they would if the 2016 referendum had voted Remain – I expect to see immense political ramifications from thwarting the will of the people.

    Gove-reading is not an easy art though. He’s done himself no favours over Brexit. I could never vote for him.

  52. BR
    January 4, 2019

    Oh and – when and how will you be putting your 7 questions to old Brutus Gove?

    Reply I have already put the crucial customs questions to the PM in the House and to other Ministers in various ways, and will b e renewing/chasing up those questions next week when we are back in Parliament.

  53. Dook Domini
    January 5, 2019

    Hi John, a minor point, but ever considered adding share buttons to our blog ? Makes it easier to share the content on social media etc. Helps improve exposure of your views.

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