Liam Fox: Theresa May 'likely' to be Prime Minister until 2022
Theresa May is “likely” to remain Prime Minister for the rest of the parliament, Liam Fox has said, amid continuing speculation about her leadership.
The International Trade Secretary, who has twice run for the top job in his party, declined to give categoric assurances about his or anyone else’s future, stating: “None of us can predict the future.”
Mrs May’s position came under scrutiny after the Tories lost their overall majority in the recent general election, and Dr Fox previously hit out at Tories discussing a potential change in leader as “self-indulgent”.
Asked by Radio 4’s Today programme whether EU negotiators in talks with the UK over the Brexit process could be confident that the Prime Minister or Brexit Secretary David Davis would still be in post in a year’s time, Dr Fox said: “These are slightly peripheral questions.
“In terms of the Prime Minister, I think the Prime Minister is likely to be there for the rest of this parliament. I think she has the support of her colleagues in the House of Commons, I think she has a mandate to be Prime Minister. I think she’s got a working majority now in the House of Commons and I don’t think there is anything to be gained by speculation about leadership.
“We’ve got a job to do; we’ve got a very big task, a historic task and that is what we should concentrate upon and to be diverted into personality issues I think doesn’t do the Conservative party, the Government or the country any good.”
On his own future as International Trade Secretary, he added: “I wouldn’t predict anything for the future. In politics you never know what’s going to happen next.”
'THE EASIEST TRADE DEAL IN HUMAN HISTORY'
The former Leave campaigner claimed that a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU would be “one of the easiest in human history” to agree.
He also downplayed the risks to the UK of leaving the European Union without a deal – something that Chancellor Philip Hammond has described as a “very, very bad outcome”.
Dr Fox said: “We don’t want to have no deal. It’s much better that we have a deal than no deal. We can, of course, survive with no deal and we have to go into a negotiation with those on the other side knowing that’s what we think. But of course we want to come to a full and comprehensive deal with the European Union. Why? Because it’s good for the people of Britain and it’s good for our economy and it’s good for the consumers and workers of Europe and their economy.
“And if you think about it, the free trade agreement that we will have to come to with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history: we’re already beginning with zero tariffs & we’re already beginning at the point of maximum regulatory equivalence, as it’s called, in other words our rules and our laws are exactly the same. And the only reason why we wouldn’t come to a free and open agreement is because politics gets in the way of economics.”
The minister is in Switzerland today for talks with the World Trade Organisation about the UK’s business links with the rest of the world after Brexit.
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