Demonstrating the future relationship with the European Union Committee, the Cabinet minister said he believed the chances of a deal with the EU on a post-Brexit trade deal are now “less than 50% “. But Michael Gove reassured UK fish exporters that they would continue to be able to sell their catch to their European partners regardless of a trade deal.
“But once again, to be fair to the EU and in particular the French, they have ensured that there is as fluid a level of access as possible by clearly indicating that there will be border control on fishery products not in Calais but Boulogne Sur Mer where the main French fish market is located.
‘So from a pragmatic point of view between enterprises, arrangements have been made to ensure the continuation of trade. ”
Mr Gove said that while negotiations with the EU had progressed, “significant” differences between the two sides remained.
“The negotiation process has succeeded in narrowing the areas of divergence. It is certainly true that there are fewer areas of difference now than there were in October or even July, ”he told the Commons Brexit committee.
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The Cabinet minister also warned that the government would not seek to negotiate a new trade deal with the EU next year if it does not reach a deal before the end of the Brexit transition period.
He added that December 31 was a “fixed point in law” when the transition must end.
“That would be all. We would have left on the terms of the WTO (World Trade Organization) ”, he declared.
“Of course, there would always be contact between the UK and European nations and politicians as one would expect.
“But what we wouldn’t do is try to negotiate a new deal. ”
Asked about an earlier government warning that even with a trade deal, 7,000 lorries heading to ports in south-east England could be held in queues, Gove told the parliamentary committee he s was the worst-case scenario.
“I would expect that we would find that after a few days and weeks of potential disruption, things will work out on their own and return to a new normal relatively early in the New Year,” he added.
Mr Gove’s remarks come after it emerged that French fishermen have pledged to block Dover and Calais if there is no post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU .
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Dimitri Rogoff, president of the Normandy regional fisheries committee, told France Info radio: “If we are deprived of our fishing grounds, we will not see the British supplying the French market.
“There will therefore be blockages to ferries since this is mainly done by ferries. And on that, we are quite clear and determined. ”
Mr Rogoff’s dazzling intervention came after Michel Barnier told EU leaders on Monday that No10 had retreated on some of its red lines in the fishing industry – which Britain refuted.
French President Emmanuel Macron last week renewed his calls for a “fair deal” on access to British waters for French ships after Brexit.
Speaking at the EU summit in Brussels on Friday, he said: “I don’t want to have my cake and eat it too, no, but I want a fair deal.
“All I want is a cake that’s worth its weight. Because I won’t give up my share either. ”