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Michael Gove has confirmed there will be no “hesitation” for the UK in leaving the EU when the transition period deadline is reached. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was responding to fears of a “nightmare” situation raised by Labour MP Barry Sheerman. Mr Sheerman warned Brexit combined with issues to do with the coronavirus second wave could impact the UK negatively.
He told the Commons’ European Union committee: “I know that you’ve done a worst-case scenario and I know that caused some concern.
“All of us want the least possible disruption as we get to the end of the year and a dramatic change to all our lives on January 1.
“But is there not a nightmare scenario? We didn’t realise that the Covid-19 would be coming back as strongly as it has, and every indication is that this winter is going to be bad for covid.
“We’re going to be in a situation where there might be a flu epidemic, there might be dreadful weather from December going into January.”
Mr Sheerman added: “Is there a possibility that if there was a nightmare conjunction of all the evil forces, is there a fallback position that we could have?
“Some hesitation rather than have everything go wrong?”
Mr Gove shot back: “The scenario that we published was the reasonable worst case scenario and one of the reasons we published it was to try to encourage business to let us know what more we could do to help it become ready.
“If everyone takes appropriate steps, the Government most of all, then I think that we can mitigate many of the outcomes the worst case scenario illustrates.”
The minister continued: “The second thing is that any delay to the end of the transition period would work against everyone’s best interests.
“The leader of the Opposition has been clear that it would be wrong to go for an extension to the transition period.
“On the third point about covid, I think you’re absolutely right. I hope that you’ll be encouraging others to support the Government in any measures we make towards fighting the disease effectively.”
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Talks between the UK and EU have intensified following a phone call between Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen.
Both leaders have approved a further month of negotiations.
They urged their teams to turbocharge discussions in the coming weeks.
EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart David Frost are holding a round on talks in London.
Then there will be a follow-up in Brussels the week after.
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