MICHAEL Gove has said he is optimistic a post-Brexit trade deal will be reached.

The Cabinet Office minister said: "I personally remain hopeful that we will secure an agreement."

However he said there are still significant issues and the UK needs to be "ready for every eventuality". 

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Mr Gove made the comments while giving evidence to Holyrood's Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee.

UK and EU officials are trying to agree a deal by the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31.

Committee convener Joan McAlpine asked Mr Gove if there has been any movement and how likely it is a deal will be secured by Christmas. 

He said: "It's difficult to provide a real-time update from the negotiations. We have to respect the sanctity of that process."

He said negotiators on both sides are working in a "necessarily fast-moving and fluid environment". 

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Mr Gove said differences still exist around fisheries, governance and a level playing field.

He added: "I personally remain hopeful that we will secure an agreement. 

"But as the Prime Minister has pointed out, and indeed the EU leaders have pointed out, we need to be ready for every eventuality."

Asked about the likelihood of a deal, he said: "I have in the past attached percentages to it, but I've always regretted doing so. 

"I think on this occasion I won't compound the mistake. 

"As I say, I'm optimistic but I think it's important we all recognise there are still significant issues to bridge."