WATCH: Michael Gove accuses EU of not being willing to negotiate with UK over Brexit
Michael Gove has accused the European Union of being unwilling to negotiate with the UK over a new Brexit deal.
The Cabinet minister said the UK “stands ready to engage”, despite Brussels diplomats being told that leaving the EU without a deal is now Boris Johnson's "central scenario".
The Prime Minister has said that negotiations will only resume if Brussels agrees in advance to re-open the Withdrawal Agreement struck by Theresa May and abolish the Northern Ireland backstop - something the EU has repeatedly ruled out.
Speaking after the latest meeting of the Brexit war Cabinet, Mr Gove said: “We stand ready to engage with the European Union to negotiate in good faith, to make sure that we can achieve a friendly relationship in the future.
“And we will put all our energy into making sure that we can secure that good deal, but at the moment it’s the EU that seems to be saying 'they're not interested’.
“They’re simply saying ‘no we don’t want to talk’, well I think that’s wrong and that’s sad, it's not in Europe's interest.”
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar refuted the claim, saying he has invited Mr Johnson to come to Dublin for talks with “no preconditions”.
He said: “In terms of the EU our position is the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, is closed, but there is always room for talks and negotiations.
“For example we’ve said we can certainly make changes to the political declaration as we’ve demonstrated before to offer clarification as we did at the request of Prime Minister May in the past.
“And when I spoke to Prime Minister Johnson only last week I invited him to come to Dublin to talk about these issues, to talk about Brexit, to talk about Northern Ireland, to talk about bilateral relations.
“And I did so on the basis that there should be no preconditions, and I certainly stand by that invitation.”
But the PM’s newly-appointed chief Europe adviser David Frost is said to have told EU officials that an alternative to the backstop "would not be ready now for Brexit".
That prompted one Brussels source to tell The Telegraph the "working hypothesis" in Brussels was "now no-deal".
And a senior diplomat said of the meetings with Mr Frost: "It was clear UK does not have another plan. No intention to negotiate, which would require a plan.
“A no-deal now appears to be the UK government’s central scenario."