Gove claims Johnson was ‘clear’ since the election he would not extend Brexit transition period

Michael Gove in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV.

Michael Gove in the House of Commons. Photograph: Parliament TV. - Credit: Archant

Michael Gove has claimed that the prime minister had been quite clear since the election about the government not extending the Brexit transition period.

The Cabinet Office minister told MSPs on Holyrood's Europe Committee that the UK government will not be extending the transition period - despite repeated calls from the Scottish Government for this to be considered.

Committee convener Joan McAlpine had raised concerns that without an extension the UK could be facing the 'double disaster of a Covid recession and a no-deal or low-deal Brexit'.

But Gove said an agreement had been reached to accelerate the pace of negotiations.

'The phrase that was used was put a tiger in the tank,' he said.

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If no deal can be reached with the EU on future relations, concerns have been raised about the impact having to use World Trade Organisation rules would have on businesses.

Despite Johnson insisting that he had a 'great deal' that was 'oven-ready', Gove explained: 'We've been clear right from the moment the prime minister won the general election, the basis on which he won the general election was that we would not extend our time in the transition period.'

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As well as having to make continued payments to the EU during any extension, Gove said the UK would 'be subject to new laws that the EU could pass without our input or say'.

He said if the UK was to ask for an extension the EU would see the country as benefiting from 'unimpeded access to the single market' and would expect payment for that.

'We would be on the hook, as it were, for a significant sum,' he told the committee.

hE added the UK 'would be a price taker, not a price maker, in such a negotiation'.

He said: 'The EU 27 would be agreeing what their budget was overall and I don't think they would say that we could have a discount membership, I think that would be naive.'

The EU would not give British firms 'cut-price access' to its markets by extending transition cheaply, he argued.

'People can disagree about whether or not extending is a good thing or a bad thing but I think it would be wrong to do so, undemocratic indeed,' he said.

'It would come at a price.'

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