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Gove applauds Brexit deal 'significant personal achievement for the prime minister'

Environment Secretary Michael Gove praised Theresa May's skills as a negotiator
Henry Vaughan

TORY environment secretary Michael Gove has described the Brexit deal as a "significant personal achievement for the prime minister" in the interests of the whole of the UK.

The Brexiteer Cabinet minister praised Theresa May's skills as a negotiator and said she can now move forward to secure a free trade agreement with the EU.

"I think it's important to recognise this is a significant personal political achievement for the prime minister," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"She got a deal in the interests of the whole of the UK, so the integrity of the UK is absolute and paramount.

"There won't be, as some feared, a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. We remain one unified kingdom.

"More than that, the prime minister has also secured a deal that guarantees the rights of UK citizens abroad and also of the three million EU citizens here."

Mr Gove tried to alleviate the concerns of some Brexit supporters over the continuing role of the European Court of Justice for eight years after withdrawal.

He said "it will be a matter for British judges to decide" what cases are referred to the court.

He also played down talk of a £48 billion "divorce bill", saying it would be less than had been reported in the press, but refused to comment further on the figure.

Mr Gove said Mr May can now work towards a free trade agreement with the EU covering both goods and services, no tariff barriers, a recognition of professional qualifications.

He said there will be a two-year transition period where the UK can "iron out the details".

Commenting on Mr Gove's performance, Today presenter Nick Robinson tweeted: "Significant that Brexiteer shop steward @michaelgove chosen as official spokesman on Brexit deal. In return he lavishes praise on @theresa_may on @BBCr4today."

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - who along with Mr Gove was the most prominent Conservative on the Vote Leave campaign - echoed the warm words towards his leader, tweeting "congratulations to PM for her determination in getting today's deal".

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