Minister says transitional arrangements will definitely stop on 31 December next year.
Johnson is warned his big win will not speed up Brexit deal. PM’s majority won’t help him achieve his aims in the time frame he set himself, former ambassador to EU says
Michael Gove has categorically promised the UK will have a trade deal with the EU by the end of next year, despite deep reservations in Brussels about whether this is possible.
The senior cabinet minister became the first in Boris Johnson’s cabinet to repeat that pledge after the election, saying transitional arrangements would definitely stop at the end of December 2020.
He said discussions on the UK’s future relationship with the EU “will be concluded next year”.
Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Gove said: “Quite a lot of the details that we need to negotiate is already laid out in the political declaration, so a lot of work has been done.
“And as a number of people have pointed out, there are areas where the European Union’s interests and the United Kingdom’s interests are already closely aligned, so I’m confident that we will be able not just to leave the EU on January 31 but also to conclude all the details of a new relationship in short order.”
Asked whether this would be yet another broken promise, like Johnson’s pledge to take the UK out of the EU “do or die”, Gove simply said: “Nope.”
With just a week until Christmas, Johnson is planning to accelerate plans for his Brexit bill, carry out a cabinet reshuffle and present a Queen’s speech next week.
Gove said the centrepiece of the Queen’s speech would be legislation to enshrine extra funding for the NHS in law and measures to spread “equality of opportunity” across the country.
There are also reports that Johnson is preparing a huge shakeup of Whitehall, which would reverse many of Theresa May’s changes to the machinery of government, including:
• Abolishing the Department for International Development and merging its aid functions into the Foreign Office, which has long been his ambition.
• Shaking up the Brexit functions of government by scrapping the Department for Exiting the EU and putting it into the Cabinet Office, as well as merging the Department for International Trade with the Department for Business.
• Splitting energy and climate change from the business department again.
Johnson is likely to carry out a substantial reshuffle on Monday. Parliament returns on Tuesday and then the Queen’s speech will take place on Thursday, before the introduction of the Brexit bill by the end of the week.