In Brief

Michael Gove: UK ‘firmness’ with Brussels paying off in Brexit talks

Minister performs ‘U-turn’ at Commons dispatch box following EU concessions

London’s “firmness” with Brussels is “bearing fruit” in the Brexit negotiations, Michael Gove has claimed.

The Cabinet Office minister’s comments came after Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, seemingly agreed to the government’s demands for the resumption of Brexit talks yesterday.

As Gove delivered a statement to the Commons criticising the bloc, Bariner tweeted that he was ready to intensify trade talks “on all subjects, and based on legal texts”.

The tweet prompted what The Guardian describes as a “U-turn” from Gove, who praised the “constructive move” just minutes after declaring that the trade negotiations had “effectively ended”. 

“Even while I have been at the dispatch box it has been reported that here has been a constructive move on the part of the EU and I welcome that,” he told MPs, adding that “I prefer to look forward in optimism rather than necessarily to look back in anger”.

Downing Street adopted a less optimistic tone, however.

A spokesperson said that “the UK has noted the EU’s proposal to genuinely intensify talks, which is what would be expected at this stage in a negotiation”, but added that No. 10 “continues to believe there is no basis to resume talks unless there is a fundamental change of approach from the EU”.

As the BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler notes, “the last 24 hours have not played out as many a seasoned observer of this by now very, very, very long Brexit process might have imagined”.

“Political Twitter is exploding with theories: that Prime Minister Boris Johnson never really wanted a deal in the first place, that the EU threw away its chances to make a deal with missteps at last week's summit, or that the UK is overplaying its hand,” Adler reports.

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