“The British people” will be “in control” of Brexit and able to change the deal the government negotiates, Michael Gove has said.
The environment secretary, one of the most prominent Brexiteers in the Cabinet, said the deal could be changed by a future government if voters did not like it.
He was speaking ahead of a reported showdown meeting where Theresa May and her ministers will discuss Brexit’s “end state”.
On Friday, Gove praised May after she secured the divorce deal, which ends the first phase of negotiations and allows the EU and UK to move to the second phase and discuss trade.
The deal involves Britain paying a “divorce bill” of around £39 billion, securing the rights of EU nationals here to remain and working to avoid a hard between with the Irish Republic.
But writing in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, Gove said: “The British people will be in control. If the British people dislike the agreement that we have negotiated with the EU, the agreement will allow a future government to diverge.”
He added: “The offer we’re making is dependent on securing what we want in the next stage of negotiations... Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
He said that after a transition period, the UK would have “full freedom to diverge from EU law on the single market and customs union.”
The BBC’s Nick Robinson questioned what signal Gove was trying to send, given the praise he lavished on the prime minister the day before.
May’s Cabinet is reportedly meeting on December 19, which is expected to pit Brexiteers like Gove and Boris Johnson against those who advocate a softer exit from the EU, like Chancellor Philip Hammond.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage called the deal a “humiliation” for Britain and told the BBC: “I think that within the next 48 hours you will hear a lot more Conservative voices… saying, actually, they are not happy with what’s happened today.”
MP Dominic Raab, a staunch Brexiteer, told BBC 2′s Newsnight said the divorce deal contained “strategic ambiguity”
He said: “What I am admitting to you, very openly, and honestly, is that we have agreed principles but that the details still need to be ironed out on this very bespoke set of issues around Northern Ireland which can’t be dealt with properly and responsibly outside of the context of the broader negotiation on customs and trade and all of those other things we have said all along.”