Row over Gove 'sabre-rattling'
Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott has accused senior Tories of "dangerous sabre-rattling" over Europe, and dismissed a plan to opt out of a series of EU crime and justice powers as "stupid".
Newspaper reports claim Education Secretary Michael Gove has grown frustrated with EU legislation slowing up his school reforms, and wants the UK to deliver an ultimatum to its European neighbours: “Give us back our sovereignty or we will walk out”.
However Lord Oakeshott accused Mr Gove of "waving two fingers" to the EU, dismissing him as "an aggressive right-winger with a very keen eye on the Tory party leadership".
"We must be at the heart of Europe. We believe that membership of the EU is exceptionally important for the prosperity and future of this country. The last thing we should be doing, as Michael Gove very dangerously is doing, is sabre-rattling, threatening to come out of Europe all together," the former Lib Dem Treasury spokesman told Channel 4 News.
"Michael Gove is an aggressive right-winger with a very keen eye on the Tory party leadership. He is sending a message to the Tory right here, that he is as anti-European as they are. And it’s very, very dangerous for government ministers to be playing these games."
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond earlier said the “mood has changed” within the Cabinet over the UK’s relationship with the European Union, insisting displeasure over the balance of powers between the UK and EU was widespread in the Government.
It comes as Home Secretary Theresa May prepares to announce the UK will opt out of many EU powers over justice and crime tomorrow.
Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell has welcomed the move, saying he is "absolutely delighted" with the "one-off opportunity" to claw back powers.