UK says it’s confident of Brexit trade deal as EU changing tone

By Guy Faulconbridge and Kate Holton

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain's top minister, who oversaw the Brexit talks, said on Friday he was confident that a free trade agreement with the European Union would come about as the tone had changed significantly in recent weeks to progress achieve.

The UK left the EU on January 31, but the key conditions for membership – including membership in the EU Customs Union and the internal market – will remain in place for a transition period until the end of this year. During this time, both sides hope to negotiate a new free trade agreement.

"I am confident that there will be a deal. I think there has been a welcome change in tone in the past few weeks," Michael Gove told reporters in Portadown, Northern Ireland.

“The signs are good for a deal. Now of course there are some difficult discussions, ”said Gove. "I think there will be a successful negotiation result."

While Britain has always said that a deal is possible, the tenor of comments from Gove – one of the oldest advocates of Brexit in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government – has been significantly more positive than in recent months.

At the end of May, for example, Gove demanded that the EU break the deadlock in talks.

If no agreement is reached, world trade will be shaken, just as the world deals with the economic destruction caused by the novel corona virus.

The EU is ready to compromise by weakening its call for Britain to comply with the state aid bloc rules, diplomatic sources told Reuters earlier this month.

They said Brussels could compromise by providing a dispute settlement mechanism for future UK state aid to its companies, rather than committing London from the start to comply with its own rules of the fair competition block.

"The relationship we have with the European Union is constructive, pragmatic and impressive," said Gove, adding that he thought a deal could be made when there was more work to be done.

Britain and the EU have planned further trade negotiations until October 2, less than two weeks before a summit at which the bloc wants to endorse an agreement with London.

(Reporting by Kate Holton and Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison and Mark Heinrich)

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