tehran, yjc. -- Education Secretary Michael Gove would vote for Britain to leave the EU if there was a referendum today, he has said.
He told the BBC's Andrew Marr show "life outside would be perfectly tolerable, we could contemplate it".
But he said the best course was to follow David Cameron's plan to renegotiate powers and "lead" the change Europe needed.
And then to put the in/out question to the public in a referendum.
Mr Gove is the most senior Conservative to date to publicly contemplate backing Britain's exit from the EU, although "friends" of the cabinet minister have previously told a newspaper that is where he stands.
On Sunday he said he planned to abstain in a Commons vote next week on a failure to introduce laws guaranteeing a referendum on the issue.
It is thought about 100 backbench MPs could oppose government policy.
"I am not happy with our position in the European Union but my preference is for a change in Britain's relationship with the European Union," said Mr Gove.
"Life outside would be perfectly tolerable, we could contemplate it, there would be certain advantages."
He described the tabling an amendment to the Queen's Speech debate by Tory backbenchers regretting the absence of legislation paving the way for a referendum in the government's plans for the year ahead as "letting off steam".
"My own view is let the prime minister lay out our negotiating strategy, make sure he has a majority, which I am convinced he will secure at the next election, and let's have the referendum then."