Michael Gove, the Government’s Environment Secretary, has said that the Government and the Cabinet are “united” over the need for a post-Brexit transitional period that takes a “pragmatic approach” to the free movement of people across the bloc. This, Mr Gove said, is required in order to give both businesses and the agriculture industry the reassurance they need. Mr Gove was one of the most prominent campaigners in the Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum but appears to have been convinced of the need for a transition period following his entry as Government Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In a speech to environmental groups at the World Wide Fund for Nature, Mr Gove acknowledged the need for a transitional arrangement in order to retain access to the labour on which the British economy depends. Mr Gove said that on Brexit, “we will have an implementation period which will ensure we continue to have not just access to labour but the economic stability and certainty that business requests. That is something around which the government and the cabinet is united”.
Mr Gove’s statement comes in the wake of various reports by British newspapers that the free movement of EU nationals into the UK could continue for years after March 2019, the date on which the UK must leave the EU. Whilst a spokesperson for the Government dismissed these reports, it appears that the Cabinet is forming the opinion that following the official Brexit date a transitional period will take place, during which the UK will sit outside of the EU but will retain some elements of its membership for a set number of years.