The government aims to pass the new Finance Bill - which has yet to be published - through both houses of parliament by the year end of this year, Gove said on Wednesday. The legislation is expected to overwrite elements of the Northern Ireland protocol, which was also at the center of recent controversy surrounding the UK’s new Internal Market Bill.
He also told a parliamentary committee that the government is stepping up preparations for a no-deal scenario when the current Brexit transition deal expires. The British government wants an agreement with Brussels, but no-deal planning is being undertaken to ensure “that this country is not held hostage in a negotiation process,” he said.
Nevertheless, Gove sounded optimistic about the talks on a future trade deal. “Negotiations are proceeding… in a way which gives us cause for steady optimism,” he told MPs.
On Wednesday, talks resumed in London between the EU and Britain on their post-Brexit relationship as the two sides push to reach a deal by the end of October. The negotiations are due to last until Friday, when chief negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost are expected to meet.
President of the European Council, Charles Michel, warned on Wednesday that it is “time for the UK to put its cards on the table.” After a conversation with UK PM Boris Johnson, he tweeted: “The EU prefers a deal, but not at any cost.”
London had earlier clashed with the EU over provisions in Britain’s new Internal Market Bill which would break international law by overriding parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. The House of Commons passed the bill on September 29, although the EU has threatened to sue Britain over the controversial legislation.
Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said on Wednesday that it would be a “monumental failure of policy” and act of self-harm by the UK government if it continues with the plan to override parts of the withdrawal agreement and allow the issue to end up in court.