Gove tells Commons that Labour’s Brexit plans are ‘bollocks’

PUBLISHED: 13:21 10 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:06 10 January 2019

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

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

PA Wire/PA Images

Labour’s Brexit plans are “bollocks”, environment secretary Michael Gove has told the House of Commons.

Referencing reports that shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner had referred to Labour’s official Brexit position in the same way, Gove said he agreed.

Praising the Brent North MP’s “truth and perfect clarity”, Gove said the Commons was grateful for his casting of light on “the testicular nature” of Labour’s six Brexit tests.

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Gove said: “He summed them up, pithily, in a word which in Spanish translates as ‘cojones’ and in English rhymes with ‘rollocks’.

“I know, Mr Speaker, there are some distinguished citizens in this country who have put on their cars a poster or sticker saying ‘bollocks to Brexit’ - but we now know from Labour’s own frontbench that their official Brexit position is bollocks.”

Gove added: “I have to say that the shadow international trade secretary is a jewel and an ornament to the Labour front bench.

“He speaks the truth with perfect clarity, and in his description of Labour’s own policy can I say across the House we’re grateful to him, grateful to the constant Gardiner for the way in which he has cast light on the testicular nature of Labour’s position.”

Liberal Democrat former minister Sir Edward Davey called a point of order, asking whether speaker John Bercow had “made a new ruling on Parliamentary language which I am not aware of?”

Bercow responded that Gove had not been disorderly and use of the word was “a matter of taste”.

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He said: “I have made no new ruling on parliamentary language and I was listening, as colleagues would expect, with my customary rapt attention to the observations of the secretary of state for environment food and rural affairs.

“I richly enjoyed those observations and particularly his exceptionally eloquent delivery of them, which I feel sure he must have been practising in front of the mirror for some significant hours.

“There’s nothing disorderly - because a number of people were chuntering from a sedentary position that the use of the word beginning with B and ending in S, which the Secretary of State delighted in regaling the House with - was it orderly?

“Yes, there was nothing disorderly about the use of the word - I think it is a matter of taste.”

Gove, who campaigned alongside Boris Johnson in support of Brexit, made the comments in the second day of the debate on the Brexit deal.

He told MPs that with any deal compromise was inevitable.

He said: “17.4 million voted to leave, a clear majority, and we must honour that, but we must also respect the fact that 48% of our fellow citizens voted to Remain and their concerns, their fears and their hopes also have to be taken into consideration.

“Of course in this negotiation we’re dealing also with 27 other EU nations, EU nations which have legitimate interests and with whom we trade, many of whose citizens live in this country and who we consider our friends and partners in the great enterprise in making sure that a rules-based international order can safeguard the interests of everyone.

“So, inevitably, we have to compromise.”

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