Differences remain between UK, EU in trade talks, says Gove

LONDON (Reuters) - There are still differences between Britain and the European Union in their talks on a trade agreement, but London will work hard to try to secure a deal, Michael Gove, the minister handling Brexit divorce issues for Britain, said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a deadline of Oct. 15 to strike a free trade deal with the EU, saying that if talks go beyond with no progress both sides should “accept that and move on”, meaning Britain will end a transition arrangement with no agreement with its biggest trading partner.

Earlier, sources in Brussels said the two sides had failed to close the gap on state aid in the current round of talks, an issue that Britain is digging its heels in over as officials see it as a point of principle.

“This week, the ninth round of negotiations with the European Union is taking place ... differences of course still remain but we are committed to working hard to reach agreement within the time frame that the Prime Minister has set out,” Gove said.

The talks have been all but stalled on subsidies, fisheries and ways to solve disputes, and on Wednesday, Britain’s chief negotiator, David Frost, wrote to the car industry to say that it might face tariffs.

Gove told parliament that the interests of the automotive sector were front and centre in talks on the future relationship.

“We do put the interest of the automotive sector front and centre,” he said.

“So when it comes to Rules of Origin, diagonal cumulation or seeking a tariff-free, and quota-free deal that’s absolutely at the heart of our negotiating approach, and ... (is) at the heart of the approach that Lord Frost has taken.”

Reporting by William James and Kate Holton, writing by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Guy Faulconbridge