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Conservative leadership contender Michael Gove has said he regards the UK's 31 October Brexit deadli

Brexit deadline 'not fixed date' - Gove

He told an event in London the UK must not be bound by a "fixed" date if it needs slightly more time to get a deal.

But he insisted any further delay would be a matter of weeks, not months.

Other candidates, including Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab, insist the UK must leave on 31 October whether it has approved a deal with Brussels or not.

The UK was originally meant to leave on 29 March. That was then pushed back to 12 April and eventually Halloween after Theresa May failed to get MPs to approve her withdrawal agreement.

Eleven Tory candidates are seeking to succeed Mrs May as Tory leader and prime minister, with the winner of the contest to be announced at the end of July.

How the next prime minister gets a Brexit deal through Parliament and whether they would countenance a no-deal exit has been the dominant question of the campaign so far.

'Backstop movement'
Mr Johnson told MPs from the One Nation group of Tories on Tuesday that his party risked "extinction" if it did not deliver on the 2016 leave vote.

At a Spectator event on Wednesday, Mr Gove said Brexit was a "democratic imperative" and if it "finally comes to a decision between no deal and no Brexit, I will choose no deal".

But he suggested the timing of the UK's exit was secondary to the manner of it.

"Are we going to let an arbitrary deadline be the determinate of what a good deal is? If we get to October, let's say we're 95% there, [and then] we default to no deal. That would be a mistake."

He told the Commons hustings that leaving the EU without a deal and trading with the bloc on World Trade Organisation terms - an outcome favoured by some Tory Brexiteers - would not be "ideal", he said.

He said he would "be looking for movement" from the EU on the backstop - the controversial insurance policy to keep an open border on the island of Ireland.

George Eustice MP, a supporter of Mr Gove, also talked of a delay of "a few months" - a postponement that would be acceptable if a deal was close.

The EU has said it is willing to consider alternative arrangements to the backstop - which would see the UK remain aligned with EU rules and in the same customs territory - but it must stay in the withdrawal agreement and there can be no time limit or end date.

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