Speaking to BBC News political editor Laura Kuenssberg, the Cabinet Office Minister said the EU’s Brexit position in the negotiations with the UK continues to be “wholly unrealistic”. In a stern warning to Brussels negotiators, Mr Gove said the UK is “on course to be ready to take advantages of all the opportunities of being outside the EU”.
He added: “One of the arguments we have always made is that by choosing to leave the European Union we became a sovereign equal – and it’s absolutely important that the EU recognise that.
“I think the penny is dropping but negotiations are going on at the moment in order to make sure that those final areas of disagreement are finally resolved.”
Mr Gove insisted there is a “complete focus” in Government on coronavirus, Brexit and delivering on the manifesto, despite the turmoil in Downing Street.
He told the BBC: “There’s a complete focus in Government on making sure we can work with business and work with citizens in order to deliver on the promise of Brexit and to take advantage of the opportunities of being outside the European Union.”
Brexit negotiations are expected to continue next week but the European Union believes a deal must be concluded by mid-November in order for it to be ratified by the end of the year, when the current transition arrangements expire.
Downing Street acknowledged that “significant gaps” still remain between the two sides and “time is in short supply”.
Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin said failure to reach a deal would be “very damaging all around”, with Ireland and the UK particularly affected.
Without a deal being struck, trade between the UK and EU will be subject to tariffs set out by the World Trade Organisation.
Speaking to the BBC, the Irish premier said: “We’ve all had a very significant shock to our economic system because of Covid-19 – the last thing we need now across all of our respective economies is a second major shock.”
Mr Martin also said the UK needs to be “very careful that they do not do anything that could destabilise the politics of Northern Ireland”, and that no deal past the transition period could lead to “tensions that are unnecessary”.
Teams led by the EU’s Michel Barnier and the UK’s Lord Frost have been taking place in London this week.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Talks are continuing in London and the negotiators are working hard to bridge the still significant gaps that remain.
“Time is in short supply and there are still significant gaps that remain.”
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Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he is prepared to walk away without a deal – something the Government refers to as “Australian terms”.
In response to Mr Martin, the spokesman said: “We have been working hard throughout to get a deal but we’ve always said that it needs to be a deal that fully respects UK sovereignty, and that’s what we’re continuing to pursue.
“Right from the outset I don’t think we’ve been seeking anything that the EU hasn’t agreed to with other sovereign countries, and we’re working hard and will continue to work hard, but it is the case that significant gaps remain.”