No 10 forced to clarify Liam Fox comments on post-Brexit trade deal

Posted On: 
27th July 2016

Downing Street was forced to clarify remarks made by International Trade Secretary Liam Fox last night over comments he made about Britain’s post-Brexit trading arrangements with the EU.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox
PA Images

On a trip to the US, eurosceptic MP Mr Fox said the Government would likely seek a free-trade agreement with the EU rather than a closer “customs union”.

Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor Philip Hammond have both suggested they would prefer Britain to remain part of the EU single market.

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Downing Street was forced to clarify Dr Fox’s comments, saying no decision had been made on whether Britain would seek to be part of the EU customs union.

If it did so it would increase the barriers to striking free trade deals elsewhere, as the UK would be forced to agree to tariffs on goods imported from outside the union.

But not being part of the EU customs union would mean all goods coming into the UK would be subject to border restrictions and checks - which would affect trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Speaking in Chicago last night, as part of a three day tour to drum up support for investment in the UK, Dr Fox said: “The UK is open for business like never before.”

He added: “A vote to leave the EU and a change in government means we now have a golden opportunity to make Britain a truly global trading nation.”

But US trade boss Mike Froman said Washington would only discuss a trade deal with the US “at the appropriate time”.

He said: “As a practical matter, it is not possible to meaningfully advance separate trade and investment negotiations with the UK until some of the basic issues around the future EU-UK relationship have been worked out.”