Voters would back leaving the European Union in a fresh Brexit referendum by a bigger margin than in 2016, Michael Gove has claimed.

The environment secretary said he believed another public vote would be a worse outcome than a no-deal Brexit but predicted that voters would deliver an “even stronger” demand to leave the EU.

Calls for the public to be given the chance to break the deadlock in parliament have grown louder with less than three months to go until Brexit.

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Theresa May has repeatedly said there will not be a second referendum if, as expected, MPs vote down her Brexit deal later this month.

Reports suggest she is instead likely to return to the Commons at a later date to try again.

Mr Gove dismissed calls for the public to be given a fresh vote, saying it would be “a huge blow to our democracy”.

He told The Times: “The loss of faith people would have in our political system would be far greater than any other political or economic event in our lifetimes.”

He added: “If people are told, ‘Sorry you got it wrong last time, you were too stupid or misled, you have to think again’, I think the country would be angry.” 

But he predicted that Leave would win any second vote, saying: “I think if there were another referendum Leave would win by an even bigger majority and be even stronger.” 

The Independent’s petition for a Final Say referendum has been backed by more than 1.1 million people.

Despite staunch opposition from many of his fellow Brexiteers in parliament, Mr Gove insisted he was committed to helping secure MPs’ support for Ms May’s deal because “the alternatives would be playing with fire”.

He said: “A no-deal could be disastrous.

“It could be less than 90 days away. The impact would be particularly bad for farmers. Tariffs of 40 per cent could be slapped on meat exports to the EU and subject to strict inspection regimes by the French. There would be holdups and delays at Calais and we could lose the benefits of leaving the common agricultural policy.”

Despite Ms May having told Tory MPs she would not fight the next election and the pressure on her to announce her resignation after Britain leaves the EU in March, Mr Gove predicted that she will still be prime minister this time next year and said he thought more highly of her now than he did when the pair were cabinet colleagues in David Cameron’s government.

He said: “I respect her more now. She has shown an amazing deal of resilience, integrity and determination. I realise now just how difficult the top job is so when the vote of confidence came I energetically and enthusiastically supported her.”



The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.

Sign our petition here

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