International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox has insisted that future British trade with the EU will be “at least as free” as it currently is, suggesting it would be to Europe’s detriment not to reach such an agreement as part of Brexit negotiations.
In his first major speech since being appointed to the newly created post in July, Dr Fox claimed a free-trade deal would be in Europe’s best interests, arguing Member States export more to the UK than vice versa. Dr Fox also claimed the UK should become a full member of the World Trade Organisation and that the country had “a golden opportunity to forge a new role for ourselves in the world” and to become a world leader in free trade.
Nick Clegg, the former Deputy Prime Minister and staunch advocate of the EU, claimed Dr Fox’s views were “delusional.” European leaders including Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have also insisted the UK cannot expect a better deal than other countries outside the Eurozone when it leaves the EU.
Dr Fox’s comments will increase speculation as to the UK’s negotiating position during Brexit, although Downing Street has been quick to slap down Cabinet members including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for similar commentary over Britain’s withdrawal. Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to take the usual step of speaking on the first day of the Conservative Party conference to address Brexit.