Liam Fox warns joining a customs union with the EU would be ‘selling out’ Britain
Britain must not “sell out” and join a customs union with the EU after Brexit, Liam Fox will warn today.
In a speech in London the International Trade Secretary will say the UK must be free to “exploit” trading opportunities outside the bloc and insist that such an arrangement would be “worse” than the current rules.
The intervention is part of a series of speeches by senior ministers setting out the Government’s Brexit vision.
It comes after Jeremy Corbyn announced his party’s support for a customs union with the EU in a speech yesterday.
The Labour leader said he wanted "a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union" with tariff-free trade and no hard border on the island of Ireland.
But Mr Fox immediately hit back, accusing him of “a cynical attempt by Labour to try and frustrate the Brexit process and play politics with our country’s future”.
Theresa May has repeatedly said that the Government will not pursue such a trading arrangement after Brexit.
However, the Prime Minister has a battle ahead with pro-European Tory MPs, who are rallying behind an amendment to the Trade Bill that would compel Britain to join "a" customs union with the EU, albeit outside the formal structures of the existing customs union.
But Mr Fox will today set out the Government’s plan, saying: "As rule takers, without any say in how the rules were made, we would be in a worse position than we are today.
"It would be a complete sell out of Britain's national interests.”
He will add: "The inevitable price of trying to negotiate with one arm tied behind our back is that we would become less attractive to potential trade partners and forfeit many of the opportunities that would otherwise be available."