Michael Gove has responded to an EU request for clarity by saying that the government has been perfectly clear about what it wants from post-Brexit trade talks.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen frustrated the government as she urged the UK to ‘make up its mind’ as she marked 100 days in office.
Von der Leyen acknowledged there were ‘differences in the approach’ between the two sides following the first round of negotiations.
Asked whether there would be a ‘landing zone’ for a deal in June, the commission president told reporters in Brussels: ‘We are aware that there are differences in the approach towards what scope should the future agreement have and what are – if I may say so – the rules of the game everybody has to abide to.
‘So it will be important that the UK makes up its mind – the closer they want to have access to the single market, the more they have to play by the rules that are the rules of the single market.
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‘If this is not the UK’s choice then, of course, they will be more distant and it will be more difficult for the UK to access the single market.
‘So I think it’s up to the UK within the negotiations to think about the trade-offs they want to take into account.’
Johnson’s government believes it has been clear about the more limited arrangement it is seeking from the EU in the negotiations.
The prime minister’s blueprint for the negotiations indicates the UK could walk away unless the ‘broad outline’ of a deal is clear by the end of June.
Updating MPs on the first round of talks, Gove said he wanted to see a deal that reflects the ‘reality’ of Brexit.
He told MPs: ‘The UK’s team made clear that on January 1 2021, the UK would regain its economic and political independence in full, and that the future relationship would need to reflect that reality.’
Before the next round of talks, the UK expects to table ‘a number of legal texts, including a draft FTA’, Gove said.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: ‘The UK has made up its mind very decisively and has been very clear about it wants from its future relationship with the EU.
‘The UK’s position is the one which secured a significant majority for the prime minister in the December general election.’