The prime minister’s renegotiation is not legally binding and could be overturned by a top European court, according to Michael Gove.
The justice secretary – who is campaigning for Britain to leave the EU – said in an that treaty change was needed for the European court of justice to be bound by the deal.
has claimed the deal is “already legally binding and irreversible” and could only be overturned by all member states including the UK.
Gove said: “The facts are that the European court of justice is not bound by this agreement until treaties are changed and we don’t know when that will be. I do think it’s important that people also realise that the European court of justice stands above every nation state, and ultimately it will decide on the basis of the treaties and this deal is not yet in the treaties.”
Responding to Gove’s claims, a No 10 spokesman said: “It is not true that this deal is not legally binding. Britain’s new settlement in the EU has legal force and is an irreversible international law decision that requires the European court of justice to take it into account.”
Sarah Vine, a journalist who is married to Gove, that her husband had been “locked in an internal struggle of agonising proportions” over his decision on the referendum but had chosen “own heartfelt beliefs” over “loyalty to his old friend, the prime minister”.
The cabinet minister’s critique comes as a group of former senior military commanders have warned that leaving the European Union could hamper the UK’s ability to tackle threats such as Islamic State or Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The former service chiefs said faced a series of “grave security challenges” and the UK was in a stronger position to deal with them from inside the EU.
The intervention by the former Royal Navy, army and Royal Air Force commanders will be a boost to Cameron, but comes amid fresh warnings about the scale of the migration crisis in Europe.
, the ex-services chiefs told of their concern about the rise of Isis, saying: “We have served around the world and in almost every conflict in which Britain has been engaged since the second world war. We are proud to have served our country and to have played our part in keeping Britain safe. In the forthcoming referendum, therefore, we are particularly concerned with one central question: will Britain be safer inside the EU or outside it? When we look at the world today, there seems to us only one answer.
“Europe today is facing a series of grave security challenges, from instability in the Middle East and the rise of Daesh [Isis], to resurgent Russian nationalism and aggression. Britain will have to confront these challenges, whether it is inside or outside the EU. But within the EU, we are stronger. Inside it, we can continue to collaborate closely with our European allies, just as we did when we helped to force the Iranians to the negotiating table through EU-wide sanctions, or made sure that Putin would pay a price for his aggression in Ukraine.”
Signatories to the letter, which was in part coordinated by Downing Street, include former chiefs of defence staff Field Marshal Lord Bramall and Field Marshal Lord Guthrie.