Boris Johnson’s premiership is moving to a decisive new phase as the UK leaves the EU, with pressure now firmly on him to make good on his much vaunted opportunities of Brexit and his pledge to transform the country’s lopsided economy.
Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister and Mr Johnson’s co-Vote Leave campaigner in the 2016 Brexit referendum, said nobody would any longer be able to blame Brussels for domestic problems. “There won’t be a hiding place for politicians like me,” he added. For Mr Johnson therefore, the challenges of completing a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU and reviving the economy are piling up.
Mr Gove on Friday conceded that the “Canada-style” free trade agreement being sought by the UK in talks in Brussels would create costs for British companies selling their products into the EU, the country’s biggest market.
He told the BBC that Britain would not accept Brussels’ terms, which focus on linking deep market access to sticking closely to the EU’s rules. “You can only have fully frictionless trade if you accept all their rules, you accept all their laws, you are subordinate to their judges, you are subordinate to their political structures,” said Mr Gove.
Recommended Brexit Briefing Brexit day: a moment of symbolism, not change He added that was unacceptable, saying: “That may mean that when it comes to trading with Europe there are some bureaucratic processes there that aren’t there now but we will do everything possible to minimise the friction in terms of our economy.” Pascal Lamy, former head of the World Trade Organisation, has told the BBC’s Week in Westminster programme that this will be the first negotiation in history where both parties started off with free trade and discussed what barriers to erect.
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