Philip Hammond backs Michael Gove over rethink on EU

Cabinet minister Philip Hammond on The Andrew Marr Show Michael Gove is reflecting what many of us feel - Hammond

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond says cabinet colleague Michael Gove was reflecting "what many of us feel" in warning that the UK could leave the EU.

The Mail on Sunday reports that Mr Gove believes it is time to tell the European Union to "give us back our sovereignty or we will walk out".

Mr Hammond told the BBC "the balance of" powers was currently not right.

He said there was not going to be an "in or out" referendum now, but the "mood has changed".

The Mail on Sunday says Mr Gove, the education secretary, has changed his view on the EU partly because of the way its rules have been able to disrupt his schools reforms.

Asked about the article, during an interview on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Hammond said: "What Michael is reflecting, and many of us feel, is that we are not satisfied with the current relationship between the EU and the UK.

"The balance of competencies is not right."

Mr Hammond said the fact that the eurozone members would be having to change their relationship meant that for the "first time in a decade" there was an opportunity to renegotiate powers.

He said that, with 50% of UK trade being with the EU, it "makes sense" for Britain to be in the single market, but to "reset the relationship so we have a balance of competencies between Europe and Britain that works for Britain and for the British people".

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps told the Sunday Politics that the eurozone was in a state of flux at the moment.

Once that was resolved, it would be made clear that the UK wanted powers returned to the British Parliament, with the public to vote to approve such a return of powers either at the next General Election, or in a referendum "shortly afterwards", he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron said last week that a review of the balance of powers between the UK and the EU would be likely to lead to a referendum on Britain's relationship with the EU after the next election.

Mr Shapps rejected the suggestion of an electoral pact between the Conservatives and the UK Independence Party - which wants the UK to leave the European Union - at the next General Election.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said last month that Mr Cameron's suggestion was for a vote leading to "no real change other than a loss of what influence we now have".

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