Gove exposes Brussels ‘political land-grab’ plot to shackle Northern Ireland to EU forever

Brexit: Gove on UK's 'co-operation' with EU over Northern Ireland

Michael Gove revealed EU officials wanted to “plant a flag” in Northern Ireland keeping it part of the union forever during Brexit talks. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster explained trade talks are not in that position now. Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Gove said: “It is the case that there will be some EU officials who will welcome Northern Ireland to make sure that they’re satisfied the process we’re in control of will be running appropriately.

“But that’s standard when you’ve got trade agreements.

“It’s often the case you have people from one country going to their trade partner in order to make sure that the systems put in place match the agreement that’s been concluded.

“That’s fairly standard practice.

“At one stage there were people in the EU who wanted to mount a political land grab and say, ‘we’re planting a flag and there is a bit of Northern Ireland that is forver the EU’.

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“We’re not in that position now.

“We were quite clear that we were very keen on pragmatic and friendly business-like cooperation and that’s what we’ve got.”

The Cabinet minister has said a post-Brexit trade deal will be “very difficult” without movement from the EU.

Asked for a percentage of how optimistic he was, Mr Gove told Times Radio: “I think it’s so close to December 31 that I’ll move away from setting percentages and instead what I’ll be doing is hoping that on the EU side we get the movement that we need in order to seal the deal that I know that we want to.”

Brexit: EU ‘hasn’t budged an inch’ says Iain Duncan Smith

He added: “Unless we see some movement on the EU side, then it will be very difficult.”

Mr Gove told BBC Breakfast he hopes Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s dinner with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will create “further political momentum” after he reached an agreement on border checks and trading rules for Northern Ireland with his counterpart on the UK-EU joint committee on Wednesday.

“I’m hopeful that the Prime Minister will be able to lay out, over the course of dinner, where movement is required,” he said.

“The conversation between the Prime Minister and the president tonight, I hope, will create further political momentum, which will make sure that we do reach an agreement.”

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Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said the outstanding issues in the negotiations with the European Union were about sovereignty and not trade.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think at the moment the problem that the Prime Minister faces is that this is not any longer about a trade deal – a trade deal is sitting in the wings.

“What this is all about is sovereignty, the question of how far can the EU insist that their courts and their rules and their regulations apply to the UK as we go forward, leaving the UK trapped in the orbit of the EU without any say, and that’s simply unacceptable to the Prime Minister.”

The ex-cabinet minister said the “EU hasn’t budged one bit” in the negotiations and accused the bloc of showing “bad faith” towards the UK services sectors in the trade talks.

Asked whether he trusted Boris Johnson in the final stretch of the negotiations, Mr Duncan Smith added: “I do, I completely trust him in the sense that, here is the man who wrote the manifesto and the manifesto was clear that the sovereign right of the United Kingdom to make trade deals and, where necessary, to diverge from EU regulations is in the hands of the UK Government.”

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