Last Friday, Michael Gove, Britain’s top minister overseeing Brexit talks, said he was confident a free trade deal would be clinched with the European Union as there had been a distinct change of tone from the bloc in recent weeks allowing progress to be made.
The United Kingdom left the EU on January 31, but the main terms of its membership remain in place - including being in the EU customs union and single market - during a transition period until the end of this year, during which time both sides hope to negotiate a new free trade accord.
“I’m confident that there will be a deal, I think there has been a welcome change in tone over the last few weeks,” Michael Gove told reporters in Portadown in the British province of Northern Ireland. Reuters.com further quoted him as saying; “The omens are good for a deal. Now of course there is some tough talking to do. I believe that there will be a successful negotiated outcome.”
While Britain has always said it believed a deal was possible, the tenor of the comments from Gove - one of the most senior Brexit supporters in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government - was distinctly more positive than in recent months.
UK pledges £355 mln to cushion businesses Northern Ireland
According to an article on fpcfreshtalkdaily.co.uk, the UK government has announced a £355m package to cushion Northern Ireland businesses from the costs of trading with the rest of the UK because of Brexit.
Michael Gove said £200m would be spent on a trader support service (TSS) to help firms handle new bureaucracy to move goods across the Irish Sea, turning the government into a de facto customs agent for traders.
A further £155m will be spent on digital technology to streamline processes required by the new internal border created by the Northern Irish protocol, part of the Brexit deal that aligns the region to the UK customs territory and the EU customs code.