Michale Gove insisted movement is required to ensure the “appropriate reset” is agreed between the UK and the European Union after a tense few days. Two weeks ago, Brussels sparked panic after unilaterally triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol the two sides struck as part of the Brexit trade agreement. Mr Gove said progress in moving on had been made but insisted further negotiations are necessary.
Giving evidence to the European Scrutiny Committee, Mr Gove said: “Progress is being made but we’re very far from resolving all those problems.
“We had a good and productive conversation with Vice-President Šefčovič and the First Minister and the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.
“Both the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister talked privately and candidly about the challenges the people of Northern Ireland face on the ground.”
He continued: “I’ve been talking not just with the parties in Northern Ireland but also representatives of the Irish Government at ministerial level and, even as we speak, the team has been in discussion with the Commission as a preview to Vice-President Šefčovič coming to the UK this Thursday for more conversations.
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“I would like to make sure we accelerate that progress, it’s not been as fast as I would like but I also recognise the Commission has its own processes.”
The Secretary of the Duchy of Lancaster was also questioned on what might have pushed the European Union to trigger Article 16 while bypassing its own rules on notifying the UK about the decision.
Mr Gove said he could only speculate about the reasoning behind the move but insisted Brusssels owed EU citizens an “explanation” for threatening to cause major trade disruptions.
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