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Brexit 'implementation phase' would be in UK interest - Gove

Britain's Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, leaves 10 Downing Street after a cabinet meeting, in central London, Britain July 18, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - It is in Britain’s national interest to have an “implementation phase” when it leaves the European Union, Brexit-supporting environment minister Michael Gove said on Wednesday.

British media reported last week that pro-European Chancellor Philip Hammond had won backing among ministers for a two-year transition period after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019, which would continue to allow the free movement of European Union immigrants to Britain.

“There is no reason for that (transition) process to be anything other than smooth and orderly, and it’s in the interests of Britain and the European Union to ensure that we transition to a new situation, that we have an implementation phase,” Gove told BBC Radio.

Asked if he would be willing to submit to rulings from the European Court of Justice and continued EU immigration during that period, he said: “Yes. Ultimately the important point is we’re leaving.... But provided we know that we’re going to get to that destination, then I want to ensure that we take as pragmatic an approach as possible.”

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon, writing by Kylie MacLellan, editing by David Milliken