Michael Gove joins with Labour MPs for secret talks on Brexit 'failures' and how to 'work better' with the EU

Michael Gove joined with Labour frontbenchers earlier this week
Michael Gove joined with Labour frontbenchers earlier this week
James Manning
Dan Falvey

By Dan Falvey

Published: 12/02/2023

- 15:56

The meeting focused on the economic difficulties since Brexit and how to best make the most of Britain's freedom from the bloc

Michael Gove joined senior Labour party figures in holding talks about the failures of Brexit this week, it has been claimed.

The senior minister and prominent Brexiteer is said to have joined with frontbenchers from Sir Keir Starmer's party on Thursday and Friday at a country house in Oxfordshire for private discussions.

The group included shadow foreign secretary David Lammy and Lord Peter Mandelson among others.

Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire.
Discussions took place at Ditchley Park in Oxfordshire

As source described the meeting as "constructive" when speaking to the Observer, who originally reported the story.

“The main thrust of it was that Britain is losing out, that Brexit is not delivering, our economy is in a weak position,” they said.

“It was about moving on from Leave and Remain, and what are the issues we now have to face, and how can we get into the best position in order to have a conversation with the EU about changes to the UK-EU trade and co-operation agreement when that happens?”

The talks were said to be about how "can we make Brexit work better with our neighbours in Europe?"

Sources close to Gove told the Observer he attended in a personal capacity as a governor of Ditchley Park where the meeting took place.

They said he did not discuss anything related to ongoing Brexit negotiations with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol or government policy.

Instead it focused on the economic difficulties since Brexit and how to best make the most of Britain's freedom from the bloc.

It comes amid mounting speculation that a deal is on the cards to reduce the red tape on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

File photo dated 27/02/22 of Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy arrives at BBC Broadcasting House in London, to appear on the BBC One current affairs programme, Sunday Morning. Labour has called for Iran's revolutionary guard to be formally branded a terror group as part of a UK retaliation to Alireza Akbari's execution. Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a special branch of Iran's armed forces, was %22behaving like a terrorist organisation and must now be proscribed as such%22. Issue date: Sunday January 15, 2023.
David Lammy was among others in attendance
Aaron Chown

On Friday, the Government and the EU reiterated their commitment to finding “joint solutions” to differences around the Northern Ireland Protocol which was agreed in 2019 as a way to unlock the logjam over securing a Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris met with leaders of parties in the province on Friday where he discussed progress in the talks.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is not currently sitting after the DUP pulled out of the power-sharing devolved executive in protest at the way the Protocol was being implemented.

This week the deadline for new elections to be held to get the Assembly up and running again was delayed.

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