THE door on post-brexit trade talks between the UK and EU remains “ajar”, Michael Gove has said, undermining Downing Street’s claim that they were “over”. 

Boris Johnson said on Friday that the negotiations on future relations had been “effectively ended” by the EU refusing to agree to UK demands. 

The Prime Minister said a “fundamental change of approach” was needed, and told the UK to prepare for an Australian-style deal, meaning basic WTO terms with wide-ranging tariffs, from January. 

His chief negotiator Lord Frost also told his EU counterpart, Michel  Barnier, there was “no basis” for coming to London for scheduled meeting on Monday.

However in TV interviews this morning, Mr Gove made it clear that only the “current round of talks” had ended, and there was scope for further talks ahead.

“The ball is in his court,” he said of Mr Barnier.

Asked on BBC One’s Andrew Marr show if the door was still ajar on talks, the cabinet office minister replied: “It is ajar; we hope the EU will change their position, we’re certainly not saying that if they do change their position we can’t talk to them.”

Mr Gove said he would prefer to leave the year-long transition period, which ends on December 31, with a deal, admitting leaving without one would not “be a picnic”.

However he added “we are ready if required” to leave in the absence of a deal.

Earlier, on Sky’s Sophie Ridge on Sunday, Mr Gove put the chances of a deal at less than the 66% he predicted a few weeks ago. 

He said: “It’s less. I can’t be precise, but one of the reasons why it’s less is the position that’s been taken in the last couple of weeks by European Union leaders.

He said the EU had not been willing to intensify talks and refused to work on the detailed legal texts needed for any deal, while making unacceptable demands on fishing waters.

He said: “And so that seems to me to be the behaviour of an organisation and an institution that is not serious about making the compromises necessary to secure a deal.”

Asked if talks could resume with Mr Barnier, he replied: “The ball is in his court. We’ve made clear that we need to see a change in approach from the European Union.

“I know that he’ll be calling David Frost over the course of the next few days; let’s see if the European Union appreciate the importance of reaching a deal and the importance of making ground.”

On Friday, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said there was “no point” in Mr Barnier travelling to London unless the 27 EU member states were willing to alter their position or wanted to discuss sector by sector arrangements to prepare for no deal.

“The trade talks are over. The EU have effectively ended them by saying that they do not want to change their negotiating position,” the spokesman said.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford told Radio 4 a no-deal outcome would be “disastrous”.

He said: “Nothing is going to be as good as the deal we’ve currently got in the customs union and single market - that would serve us best.

“But in the situation that we’re in I want the UK Government to do a deal because that’s the least worst option.
“If we end up in a no-deal Brexit, we know, and we know that Michael Gove knows, that there would be a threat to food supplies, there would be a threat to medicines, there would be chaos at our ports.

“To threaten this on the citizens of the United Kingdom when we’re dealing with a pandemic is the height of irresponsibility, and we ought to be hitting the pause button.

“In the absence of being able to negotiate and complete a deal just now, we should be extending transition. The last thing we should be doing is seeing an increase in unemployment through what is really political intransigence.”