Brexit deal possible but EU has to drop ‘ideological approach’ – Michael Gove

A deal on the UK’s future relationship with the EU is possible if Brussels drops its “ideological approach”, Michael Gove has said.

Updating MPs on the state of play in the Brexit negotiations, the Cabinet Office minister said there remained areas where the two sides had “significant differences”.

This includes fisheries, governance arrangements and the so-called level playing field.

“The EU, essentially, wants us to obey the rules of their club, even though we’re no longer members,” Mr Gove told the Commons.

“They want the same access to our fishing grounds as they currently enjoy while restricting our access to their markets.

“It remains difficult to reach a mutually beneficial agreement while the EU maintains such an ideological approach.

“But we believe an agreement is possible if flexibility is shown.”

Britain left the EU at the end of January after 47 years of membership and is currently in an 11-month transition period which ends in December.

This time frame is being used to negotiate a free-trade agreement and sort out the terms of the future relationship that will govern ties between the UK and the EU.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted he will not extend the Brexit transition period beyond the end of this year, despite warnings that disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic has made striking a deal impossible.

The third round of talks on the future relationship between the two sides ended last week, with the next round due to begin next month.

Mr Gove, a campaigner for Brexit during the 2016 referendum campaign, said the government had made public the UK’s draft legal texts.

“To help facilitate discussions in the fourth round and beyond, the government has today published the full draft legal text that we’ve already shared with the Commission and which together with the EU’s draft agreement have formed the basis of all discussions,” he said.

“The UK texts are fully in line with the government’s document entitled The Approach to the Future Negotiations which was published on 27 February.”

Mr Gove added: “The government remains committed to a deal with a free-trade agreement at its core and we look forward to the fourth round of negotiations beginning on 1 June, but success depends on the EU recognising that the UK is a sovereign.”

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss, meanwhile, has published the tariff schedule the UK will operate at the end of the transition period for those countries with whom the UK does not have a trade deal.

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