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UK official hails EU move to intensify Brexit talks


British Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said on Monday that he welcomed the constructive move from the European Union (EU) as the regional bloc confirmed to intensify talks with Britain on post-Brexit relationship.

“It is the case that my colleague David Frost was in conversation with Michel Barnier and I believe it is the case that Michel Barnier has agreed both to the intensification of talks and also to working on legal texts,” Gove told parliament.

His comments came after EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who had a phone conversation with his British counterpart, David Frost, tweeted: “I confirmed that the EU remains available to intensify talks in London this week, on all subjects, and based on legal texts.” “We now wait for the UK’s reaction,” Barnier said.

The Brussels-London negotiations were left in limbo when EU leaders last week called on Britain to budge in order to secure a trade deal.

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“It has been reported that there has been a constructive move on part of the EU and I welcome that and obviously we need to work on the basis of the proposed intensification they propose,” Gove said, adding that he preferred to look forward in optimism. The EU earlier proposed talks on Monday in London but was refused by Britain.

Downing Street said there was no point in discussions unless the EU was prepared to discuss the detailed legal text.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week that as the EU Summit in Brussels refused to offer London a Canada-style deal, Britain will prepare to embrace the Australia-style arrangement.

The Australia-style arrangement is an euphemism for failure to reach a free trade agreement, which means the Britain-EU trade will fall back on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules in 2021.