Gove says 'Winter is coming' as the Commons prepares to vote on Brexit deal

Environment secretary Michael Gove. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA.

Environment secretary Michael Gove. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Environment secretary Michael Gove has channelled the popular television fantasy drama Game Of Thrones when he discussed alternatives to Theresa May’s deal.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If we don’t vote for the deal tonight, in the words of Jon Snow, ‘winter is coming’.

“I think if we don’t vote for the deal tonight we will do damage to our democracy by saying to people we are not going to implement a Brexit, and the opportunity that all of us have to live up to our democratic obligations is clear.”

“Winter is coming” is a phrase from the HBO programme, whose stars include Britons Maisie Williams and Lena Headey, where cold weather heralds the arrival of an apocalyptic army of the frozen undead on the borders of the fictional land of Westeros.

Gove declined to predict a victory for the prime minister, saying he did not know which way it would go.

But he reiterated that remaining in the EU was worse than leaving without a deal, saying: “The real danger is if people do not vote for the government this evening, we face either a no-deal Brexit, with the short-term economic damage that would bring, or worse: no Brexit at all.

“We know there are people in the House of Commons and outside who have never made their peace with this decision, who want to overturn it.”

He defended the backstop agreed by May with Brussels, saying: “I think the whole point about the backstop is that it’s deeply uncomfortable for the EU.

“If it is a trap for anyone, it’s a trap for the EU. Why? Because the European Union said at the very beginning of this process that there would be no cherry-picking, the four freedoms of the single market were indivisible.

“But we have picked a whole bowl of glistening cherries, we have free access to the European market with no tariffs and no quotas but at the same time we say that European citizens have no freedom of movement.

“We don’t pay a penny for that access, if we are worried about money after we leave and when we are in the backstop, and at the same time we can say to European nations, ‘Do you know what? Access to our territorial waters for fishing, access to our exclusive economic zone, forget about it’.

“We are in a stronger position in the backstop.”

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