During the Referendum campaign, 70% of Theresa May’s cabinet advised Britain to remain in the European Union and the Single Market. That’s 16 cabinet ministers out of 23 who concluded and concurred that it was in the country’s best interests to stay a member of the EU.
Yet only three weeks after the Brexit result, those 16 Tory politicians volunteered to form a government to take Britain out of the European Union and the Single Market – going entirely against their own advice that this would be detrimental to the country’s interests.
What had changed in the space of three weeks? Did all those politicians suddenly decide that their support for Britain’s membership of the EU was wrong? On what basis? Since in just three weeks, none of the facts had changed.
Or were these government ministers persuaded to change their minds simply because, by a wafer thin margin, more voters chose Leave than Remain? If so, what does that say about their political judgment? That if enough people tell them to, they will abandon their beliefs, principles and considered opinions?
The majority of the government’s cabinet ministers are now acting against their own strong advice. Here’s a summary of what they told us during the Referendum campaign.
•THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER
“I believe it is clearly in our national interest to remain a member of the European Union.”
“Remaining inside the European Union does make us more secure, it does make us more prosperous and it does make us more influential beyond our shores.”
“I believe the case to remain a member of the European Union is strong.” (Source)
• PHILIP HAMMOND, CHANCELLOR
"As an historic sceptic about the EU, I believe that, on balance, the benefits of the single market with the deal we have got and the unique terms of membership now offered to the UK, mean that we will be safer, stronger and better off if we remain in the EU.”
"So to those who care passionately about Britain's influence in the world, I say that our voice will be louder and more persuasive if the United Kingdom votes to remain on June 23." (Source)
• AMBER RUDD, HOME SECRETARY
“I passionately believe it is best for us all and our country if we remain a member of the EU – to take advantage of our special status within the Union giving us access to the world’s largest trading bloc.” (Source)
"Leading employers are saying investment and jobs are at risk if we leave Europe. That means future generations deprived of opportunities. It means less financial security for British families. It is just not worth the risk." (Source)
• MICHAEL FALLON, DEFENCE SECRETARY
“When Russia annexed Crimea, it was only through the EU that we were able to impose sanctions; NATO couldn’t do that. And it is only through British leadership that the EU continues those sanctions today. Make no mistake – a vote to Leave would be payday for Putin.
“Like it or not, the EU is now part of the collective security of the West. If Britain – its largest defence spender – left, the EU would be smaller and weaker. That would undoubtedly be welcomed by Britain’s enemies around the world. No ally, no partner, no Commonwealth country wants us to leave.” (Source)
• LIZ TRUSS, JUSTICE SECRETARY
“I don’t want my daughters to grow up in a world where they need a visa or permit to work in Europe; or where they are hampered from growing a business because of extortionate call costs and barriers to trade.”
“Every parent wants their children to grow up in a healthy environment with clean water, fresh air and thriving natural wonders. Being part of the EU helps protect these precious resources and spaces.” (Source)
• JEREMY HUNT, HEALTH SECRETARY
“Leaving EU is not 'taking back control' it is surrendering control to a huge block on our doorstep.”(Source)
“I want Britain’s voice to be strong in the world and believe we will be better off and more secure by remaining in the European Union.” (Source)
• JUSTINE GREENING, EDUCATION SECRETARY
”Staying in the EU is smart diplomacy and smart economics.
“Smart economics because we keep access to the European free trade area we call the single market. A single market of 500 million people, and we keep a say over the rules of doing business across Europe. That means more jobs, lower prices, and more financial security for British families.
“And it’s smart diplomacy because we can influence more widely by staying within the EU. As President Obama said, this amplifies Britain’s influence.” (Source)
• KAREN BRADLEY, CULTURE SECRETARY
“I want a strong UK economy to pay for the public services we all need, and our economy is undoubtedly stronger in the EU. The simple truth is that by leaving the European single market, Britain becomes less attractive to business investment.”
“If you want a stronger, safer, better off Britain, then the positive choice is to vote Remain.” (Source)
• DAMIAN GREEN, WORK AND PENSIONS SECRETARY
“Those who want to pull us out of Europe and end free movement should be careful what they wish for. We would lose our access to the world’s largest free trade area, the single market, costing us jobs and pushing up prices. We would compromise opportunities for British citizens to work, study, travel, and retire freely in Europe.” (Source)
"Plenty of experts agree that being outside the single market would be the main reason why leaving the EU would cause huge economic damage.” (Source)
• SAJID JAVID, COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT
"If we leave the EU, small firms are on the front line and that's a gamble with people's livelihoods I'm not willing to take. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. Let's not break that backbone with a leap into the dark." (Source)
“Inside the single market we can guarantee continued growth in employment, greater opportunities for our young people, higher investment in our public services and new trade agreements with the world’s global powers." (Source)
• JAMES BROKENSHIRE, NORTHERN IRELAND SECRETARY
“Our access to the European Arrest Warrant has allowed us to deport 6,500 European criminals since 2010 - that’s 130 times the number of criminals Vote Leave have identified. If we left the EU, we could no longer use the European Arrest Warrant. That’s just one of the reasons we are safer inside the EU.” (Source)
• ALUN CAIRNS, WELSH SECRETARY
"The decision we make on June 23 will affect our prospects for years to come. We have a choice between voting Remain to deliver jobs, investment and growth in our economy. Or we can vote Leave and face the very real prospect of recession.” (Source)
• DAVID MUNDELL, SCOTTISH SECRETARY
“Our access to the single market of 500 million people reduces costs for Scottish businesses by removing barriers to an export market, currently worth around £11.6 billion. It secures jobs. The Wilson Review of Support for Scottish Exporting, concluded that over 330,000 jobs in Scotland depend on EU trade.”
“The benefits which Scotland and the rest of the UK gains from EU membership are clear. Stepping away from the EU would be a backwards step.” (Source)
• PATRICK MCLOUGHLIN, CONSERVATIVE PARTY CHAIRMAN
“One of the things that has shocked me is the way in which people have been dismissive of the single market. Several of those who think we should come out [of the EU] have been saying the single market doesn’t matter. It does matter. It is just vast. It has made the United Kingdom a magnet for investment.”
“We are the world's fifth largest economy. We've been in the European Union for the last 35 years so it hasn't held us back, it's actually helped us. That's one of the things that I think are of vital importance."
• DAVID LIDINGTON, LEADER OF THE COMMONS
"I shall vote to remain because our country is better off, safer and stronger in the world because of our EU membership.”
“As part of the single market, we've attracted the lion's share of foreign investment into Europe: every day, foreign companies invest £142 million here. American and Japanese companies tell me that if we quit, we cannot expect that investment or those jobs in future.
"Outside the EU, British firms would still have to conform to EU trade rules to do business there. At present we win 9 out of 10 votes on those rules. Leave, and there'll be no British voice or vote.” (Source)
• GREG CLARK, BUSINESS, ENERGY AND INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY
“I believe that we have a brighter future as a leading part of Europe than out of it. For me it comes down to our national interest. We are a trading nation. Nearly half of all our exports go to countries in the European Union - the biggest free-trade zone in the world.” (Source)
All the above are not just ordinary Members of Parliament. They comprise the majority of our government's cabinet ministers. They strongly urged Britain to remain in the EU and the Single Market in the interests of the country’s prosperity and security.
So why are they all now ignoring their own advice, and leading Britain on a path that they had unanimously agreed would be profoundly destructive to the country’s best interests?
• There are just seven members of Mrs May’s cabinet who campaigned for Leave. They are Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary; David Davis, Brexit Secretary; Liam Fox, Trade Secretary; Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary; Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, Leader of the House of Lords; Andrea Leadsom, Environment Secretary; Priti Patel, International Development Secretary.
• The following government ministers also attend cabinet meetings, but are not members of the cabinet. All of them campaigned for Britain to remain in the EU: David Gauke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury; Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General; Jeremy Wright, Attorney General; Gavin Williamson, Chief Whip
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#Brexit: 70% of @Theresa_May’s cabinet wanted #UK to Remain in the #EU. Share @Jon_Danzig’s hard hitting report: https://t.co/AG2wuKB4TL pic.twitter.com/Ush4n9KOyb— Reasons2Remain (@Reasons2Remain) 22 January 2017