Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

Brexit: Michael Gove says chance EU trade deal will be struck about 66%

A post-Brexit trade deal with the EU is more likely than not, Michael Gove has revealed as it appeared progress had been made on one of the key stumbling blocks.

The Cabinet Office minister said it was “about right” the chances of negotiators succeeding were 66%, when quizzed by a Tory MP.

His positive tone suggests the government is making progress towards striking an agreement to avoid a no-deal divorce with Brussels at the end of the transition period.

Brexit happened on 31 January meaning the UK left the EU but it is continuing to follow many of the same rules until the end of 2020.

After that there will either be a trade deal to replace the arrangements, or no-deal, leaving firms forced to export and import based on World Trade Organisation terms.

Lord David Frost, appearing alongside Mr Gove at a Commons select committee on Wednesday, was also asked how likely a deal is but declined to give a specific figure.

“I think that a deal is eminently achievable,” the UK’s chief negotiator said.

Meanwhile it appears there has been progress on the issue of state aid – the ability of countries to give support to businesses that could compromise competition laws.

A Whitehall source told Sky News “there has been a little bit of progress” on the issue.

They added the “biggest gaps remaining are on fish but there’s still a lot to do across other areas”.

And a Downing Street readout on a call between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the EU Council President Charles Michel, who represents all the EU27 leaders, also contained no mention of state aid as an unresolved issue.

It had in previous Number 10 news releases, but the one issued on Wednesday said: the two leaders “acknowledged that significant areas of difference remain, particularly on fisheries”.

It added that Mr Johnson “outlined our clear commitment to trying to reach an agreement”.

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