The Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, has said that he believes there is a good chance a post-Brexit trade deal can be reached, but that the EU must understand they need to move.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Mr Lewis said the UK would like to secure a free-trade deal that is good for themselves in Britain as well as the EU.
He said the fact that the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said he is to come back for intensive negotiations and “recognising that the EU do need to move” was a very good sign.
Mr Lewis said the UK wants to have a good relationship with the EU, but also have a deal that works for the UK and recognises them as sovereign.
He said: “I think there’s a good chance we can get a deal, but the EU needs to understand it’s for them to move as well, so that we can get a deal that works for the UK, that’s a proper free-trade agreement, that recognises us the UK being a soverign nation.”
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On US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden saying that the UK will not get a free trade deal with the US if there is any threat to the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Lewis said they fully intend to abide by and protect the GFA, which he said has done so much to protect peace in Northern Ireland.
Mr Lewis said the UK has always worked very closely with any US President and that the UK has a long special relationship with the US.
He said they will continue to work to protect the GFA.
Mr Lewis said the actions they have taken through Brexit to protect and ensure free trade and unfettered access for NI businesses to the UK, are also about protecting and ensuring no borders in Northern Ireland.
Yesterday, the Taoiseach said he believes that a Brexit trade deal will be struck and that Covid-19 makes it all the more crucial that another economic shock should be avoided.
Micheál Martin said his “gut instinct” is that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants a deal because he “gets the logic of it”.
The Taoiseach also insisted that there will be “no sealing of the border, and there will be no border on the island of Ireland as a result of this”.
Mr Martin said while the British administration is “more volatile” than in previous eras, “I think the will is there”.