Michal Gove: EU ‘refusing to negotiate’ Brexit

Michael Gove, picked by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to lead Brexit planning, said Tuesday the European Union seems to be “refusing to negotiate,” calling their position “wrong and sad.”

Michael Gove said Tuesday that the European Union is refusing to negotiate a new Brexit deal with Britain. Photo by Hugo Philpott

Gove told ITV that Johnson’s cabinet stands ready to engage the European Union to work out a new Brexit deal “to make sure we have a friendly relationship in the future.”

“It’s the EU that seems to be saying they’re not interested,” Gove said. “They are simply saying, ‘No, we don’t want to talk.’ Well, I think that’s wrong and sad, and it’s not in Europe’s interests.”

The major sticking point continued to be the “backstop” in Ireland, a plan that would prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland that would essentially keep Britain in a customs union with the EU.

Johnson has called it “undemocratic” and will not negotiate without eliminating it while the EU said the backstop will not be changed. The EU said that Britain has never presented its own backstop plan.

Opposing Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he plans to call for a no-confidence vote if Johnson continues down the path of leaving the European Union without a deal.

“We will do everything to stop no-deal, including a no-confidence vote at the appropriate very early time to do it,” Corbyn told The Guardian. “The prime minister seems to be trying to slip no-deal through, slip past parliament and slip past the British people.”

Parliament has repeatedly rejected the withdrawal deal agreed upon by the EU and former Prime Minister Theresa May. Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said a no-deal Brexit can be avoided if Britain can accept some political realities.

“I don’t accept it [no deal] is unavoidable, there are many ways by which a no deal can be avoided, either at the ratification of the withdrawal agreement, a further extension, or revocation of Article 50 — so there are a number of ways,” Varadkar said.

“I’m certainly not fatalistic about that. In terms of the EU position — the withdrawal agreement, including the backstop, is closed. But there is always room for talks and negotiations. For example, we’ve said we can make changes to the political declaration and we’ve demonstrated before it’s possible to offer clarifications,” he added.

ByClyde Hughes