Brexit Secretary Pledges EU Trade Deal by End of 2020

Conservative MP Michael Gove speaks during a Conservative Party campaign event to celebrate the result of the General Election, in central London on December 13, 2019. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday hailed a political "earthquake" after securing a sweeping election win, which clears the way for Britain to …
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Brexit secretary Michael Gove has said that the new Conservative Brexit government will agree on a trade deal with the European Union by the end of 2020, as scheduled.

Mr Gove made the assurances on Sky New’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, saying the country’s new relationship with the EU “will be concluded next year”.

“Quite a lot of the details that we need to negotiate is already laid out in the political declaration, so a lot of work has been done.

“And as a number of people have pointed out, there are areas where the European Union’s interests and the United Kingdom’s interests are already closely aligned, so I’m confident that we will be able not just to leave the EU on 31 January but also to conclude all the details of a new relationship in short order,” he continued.

Last week, a German official said that a “standard” deal could be done by December 2020, the end of the transition period.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that he will seek to deregulate and cut taxes after Brexit to make the UK more attractive to foreign investment and more competitive globally. A senior government source told The Times that Prime Minister Johnson would reject Brussels’ calls to continue close alignment in exchange for access to the Single Market.

Europeans have warned that diverging from Brussels rules could block a UK-EU trade deal, with a senior EU diplomatic source telling The Times on Sunday that the bloc would not hinder its own interests in agreeing to a deal that favoured the UK.

“If Johnson will not move on alignment then there will not be a zero-tariff, zero-quota deal and certainly no chance of one being agreed in double quick time,” the source said.

“We are not going to open up our single market to a big competitor who undercuts European economies on regulations. In the age of Donald Trump and the rise of China it would mean cutting our own throat,” they added.

However, European Union expert Thomas Kielenger told the BBC that Brussels needs a UK trade deal and will likely comply. Mr Kielenger said: “Europe has to do its best to continue a workable relationship with the UK so as to not lose it a second time… [The EU] can’t afford to leave the UK by being stubborn and hard-nosed.”

“European growth is absent and will get worse because of the absence of the £11 billion that the UK used to pay into Brussels’ coffers every year. Europeans need to get their act together. They must create a relationship with Boris. They are not going to be able to be stubborn or refuse compromises,” Mr Kielenger, formerly of German newspaper of record Die Welt, continued.

Conservative MEP and Brexiteer Daniel Hannan said that following Mr Johnson’s decisive victory, winning a majority of 80 seats, the EU will be more receptive to agreeing on a trade deal, noting the recent change in tone from the otherwise hardline Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and European Council President Charles Michel.

“So why the warm words?” Mr Hannan wrote in the Daily Mail. “Because it is now clear, beyond doubt, that Britain is leaving. As Michael Heseltine put it at the weekend: ‘We’ve lost, we have to face up to that – we’re going to leave.’

“As long as there was a prospect of forcing Britain to back down, it made sense for the EU to hang tough. Now that Brexit is inevitable, the interest of the remaining 27 is in maximising their own prosperity – something they can’t do without incidentally boosting Britain’s.”

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