Justice Secretary Michael Gove attacked claims that the UK remaining in the European Union is better for the country's security, saying that the EU is "inflicting pain on Europe". Gove also said that the EU had contributed to a recent rise in far-right "Hitler worshippers" across the continent.
The comments have been seen as explicit attacks on Prime Minister David Cameron and his assertion that staying in the EU makes Britain safer from terror attacks.
In the interview with the Sunday Times published on 6 March, Gove said: "I think overall our national security is strengthened if we are able to make the decisions that we need and the alliances that we believe in outside the current structures of the European Union."
"Our security and sovereignty stand together… There are better opportunities to generate prosperity and keep people safe if we are outside the European Union."
Gove went on to say that the EU is "inflicting pain on Europe," mentioning the rise of far-right nationalism: "The far right is stronger across the continent than at any time since the 1930s — Golden Dawn in the Greek parliament are explicitly Hitler worshippers."
EU is not innovative
Gove argued that his support for Brexit is founded on wanting Britain to be an innovative power in the world: "The really exciting innovations that are changing the way in which the world lives — Amazon, Google, Uber, Netflix — none of them are coming from the European Union."
"The institutions we've got in this country have been tested and work. A respect for our historic institutions isn't about living in the past, it's about allowing us to face the future with confidence."
Gove also mentioned the personal strain that taking the decision to back Brexit has been, saying "there were long hours and moments deep into the night when I thought I couldn't take this step… it has been very difficult in terms of a relationship with friends and colleagues whom I deeply admire".
He went to dismiss the idea that some MPs are planning to oust Cameron, saying "please let's just concentrate on issues. The prime minister has said he is going to step down."