Gove in brutal ultimatum to EU over success of Brexit talks – ‘Recognise UK is sovereign!’

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Responding to an urgent Brexit question tabled by the Labour Party, Michael Gove gave the Commons the latest update on the UK talks with the EU. He argued the Brussels bloc has shown little flexibility during the first three rounds of the trade negotiations and urged the EU to recognise the UK as a sovereign equal in order to reach a deal. 

He said: “The Government remains committed to a deal with a free trade agreement at its core.

“And we look forward to the fourth round of negotiations beginning on the 1st of June.

“But success depends on the EU recognising that the UK is a sovereign equal.”

“There remain some areas where we have significant difference of principle – notably on fisheries, governance arrangements and the so-called level playing field,” Mr Gove added.

The Tory Cabinet minister accused the EU of demanding the same access to UK fishing grounds whilst denying access to their market. 

But he stressed: “Access to our water will be on our terms”.

He repeated that the United Kingdom would not extend the transition period.

Mr Gove also said the Government would be publishing a framework document setting out its plans to ensure unfettered access for goods from Northern Ireland into the UK.

Last week, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost ended the third round of the Brexit negotiations disappointed by the demands of the other side.

On Tuesday, the UK announced a new post-Brexit tariff regime to replace the European Union’s external tariff, maintaining a 10 percent tariff on cars but cutting levies on tens of billions of dollars of supply chain imports.

After decades outsourcing its trade policy to the EU, Britain is seeking free trade agreements with countries around the world and aims to have deals in place covering 80 percent of British trade by 2022.

The new tariff regime, in place from January 2021, marks a departure from what some UK officials call an overly complex EU system, setting out Britain’s stall as it negotiates trade deals with both the United States and the Brussels-based bloc.

But it will mean that if Britain and the EU fail to reach a free trade deal by the end of the year, the price of some food, cars and some chemical inputs imported from the bloc would rise sharply.

Britain said the regime, known as UK Global Tariff, would be simpler and cheaper than the EU’s Common External Tariff. It will apply to countries with which it has no agreement and removes all tariffs below 2 percent.

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“Our new Global Tariff will benefit UK consumers and households by cutting red tape and reducing the cost of thousands of everyday products,” International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said.

The government said tariffs would be eliminated on a wide range of products, with 60 percent of trade coming into the UK tariff-free on WTO terms or through existing preferential access.

The UK will maintain tariffs on products competing with industries such as agriculture, automotive and fishing, and remove levies on 30 billion pounds ($37 billion) worth of imports entering UK supply chains.

“Keeping agricultural protection makes sense as a bargaining chip for EU & US trade negotiations. But means big cost increases for agriculture imports if no UK-EU FTA,” said Thomas Sampson, Associate Professor at the London School of Economics.

The UK will also remove tariffs on products which support energy efficiency and will introduce a temporary zero tariff on goods being used to fight COVID-19 such as personal protective equipment.

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