The British government is working with businesses to help them prepare for the departure from the European Union even as it helps them cope with the coronavirus pandemic, UK cabinet office minister Michael Gove said today. 

"We are not considering an implementation phase," he told a parliamentary committee, adding that staying within the purview of the EU would mean additional costs for taxpayers.

"What we will do is make sure that businesses adjust appropriately to the situation on the 1st of January once we're outside the Customs Union and the Single Market," Mr Gove said.

"Obviously we've all been preoccupied by the Covid pandemic - it is also the case though that we can step up our engagement with business in advance of December 31," he added.

Michael Gove also said the UK government is hopeful it can secure a deal with the European Union to cover their future relationship, describing politics as the main difficulty. 

Asked whether it was possible to reach agreement in the short time remaining, Gove told the parliamentary committee: "My judgment is that it's perfectly possible to do so." 

"The principal difficulty is not a difficulty of technical detail - the technical detail on both sides is well understood - it's a difference of political position, and I hope that we can break that impasse," he stated.