UPDATE: 8:45 a.m. EST — Justice Secretary Michael Gove issued a statement, saying he disagrees with Prime Minister David Cameron and will vote against remaining in the European Union. “I believe our country would be freer, fairer and better off outside the EU,” Gove said, adding, “Our membership of the European Union prevents us being able to change huge swathes of law and stops us being able to choose who makes critical decisions which affect all our lives. Laws which govern citizens in this country are decided by politicians from other nations who we never elected and can’t throw out.”
UPDATE: 7:39 a.m. EST — British Prime Minister David Cameron said Saturday that the U.K. will hold a historic referendum on whether to stay in the European Union on June 23, according to reports.
British Prime Minister David Cameron held a meeting with his Cabinet ministers Saturday to set a date on the "Brexit" referendum, following days of negotiation with European leaders on the U.K.’s status in the bloc.
Cameron secured a deal with 27 other European Union leaders to allow Britain to scale back on social welfare measures for migrant workers, among other measures, after a marathon round of talks over two days in Brussels that ended Friday.
Along with deciding on a date for the nationwide Brexit vote, Saturday’s emergency meeting will also end collective responsibility that forces ministers to back Cameron’s negotiating strategy, the Guardian reported. This means that Euroskeptic ministers would now be free to campaign for the U.K.’s exit from the EU.
Michael Gove, Britain’s justice secretary and longtime friend of Cameron, is expected to announce that he is voting in favor of Britain's exit from the EU, along with Police Minister Mike Penning, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Chris Grayling, the leader of the House of Commons, reports said.
“Michael is one of my oldest and closest friends but he has wanted to get Britain to pull out of the EU for about 30 years,” Cameron reportedly said, adding that “I am disappointed but I am not surprised.”
U.K. will be “safer” staying in the EU bloc, U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said Saturday in an interview on BBC radio.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposing Labour Party, also threw his weight behind the campaign to stay.
“We will be campaigning to keep Britain in Europe in the coming referendum, regardless of David Cameron’s tinkering, because it brings investment, jobs and protection for British workers and consumers,” Corbyn told Bloomberg Saturday.