EU referendum: Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle says Gove's vision is "utopian rubbish"

James Nickerson
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Eagle said there are no countries that trade with the EU that don't have to accept free movement (Source: Getty)

Shadow business secretary Angela Eagle has roundly rejected justice secretary Michael Gove's vision of the UK out of the EU as "completely ridiculous utopian rubbish".

Yesterday Gove gave a speech in which he said that UK would be able to make a free trade relationship with the EU without accepting free movement.

But Eagle doesn't agree. "There are no countries that trade with the European Union that don’t have to accept free movement, that don’t end up paying virtually the same that we pay into the European budget. In their utopian dream, that may be what they want, but I can’t see a path to there from where we are now," she said in response to Gove's claims.

Read more: This is what the Treasury thinks will happen if we vote for a Brexit

The justice secretary had pointed out that the EU sells more to the UK than the UK sells to the EU, as a reason why free trade would be in everybody's interest.

But Eagle reckons the trade deficit with Europe is not a sign of strength on the part of the UK, according to the Guardian.

"I’ve never heard a trade deficit being used in that way. It’s a problem, not an opportunity: it’s a sign of how narrow our economy is and how the government has neglected our manufacturing base.

"I don’t know what planet they’re on: planet Brexit," Eagle added.

Read more: 68 per cent of UK expats in Europe are worried about Brexit

On a broader note, the shadow business secretary said that she doesn't think "you can unwind 42 years of economic integration when it’s your biggest customer and you can’t unwind it without a huge exogenous shock to the whole economy".

Freedom to make trade deals with countries such as China, India and the US is among a variety of reasons Gove thinks the UK should vote to leave the EU.

But Eagle said that the UK's ability to negotiate trade deals is increased by being in the EU.