WATCH Theresa May ‘not bluffing’ over no deal Brexit threat, says Liam Fox
Theresa May is not “bluffing” when she says Britain is prepared to walk away from Brexit negotiations without a deal, Liam Fox has said.
The International Trade Secretary told Sky’s Ridge on Sunday that Britain must be prepared to exit the EU without a deal in order to get the best outcome for the UK.
He said: “Our European partners would be foolish to believe that because our Prime Minister is very considered, very pragmatic that she’s bluffing.
"None of us, including me, want no deal. I sincerely hope we get a good deal and I think that is in the interests of the European Union as well as the United Kingdom, but if politics is put ahead of the economic wellbeing, the long-term wellbeing of the United Kingdom we would have to walk away."
Dr Fox also warned critics of a no deal scenario, that they were putting Britain at a disadvantage by saying it should be taken off the table.
“It’s a negotiation,” he said. “If we actually say we will accept any deal you give us rather than walk away that weakens our negotiating position, and people who are making these comments need to understand that they may actually be putting the UK as a disadvantage by making these cases.
“We have got to be free in a negotiation to say if we don’t get the deal that we want there won’t be any agreement.”
This comes after the aerospace giant Airbus, which employs 14,000 people in the UK, warned that it may be forced to relocate elsewhere in Europe or China because of the uncertainty caused by Britain quitting the EU.
Chief operating officer Tom Williams said: "The clock is ticking. If we decide now that we need one or two months of additional inventory because we are worried about these components getting stuck in the docks of Dover or Calais, then from a contingency point of view I have to do something."
However, despite the warnings Mrs May is under increasing pressure to prepare to walk away from Brexit talks.
Today 60 politicians and business leaders wrote to the Prime Minister arguing that only by making plans to crash out of the EU on World Trade Organisation rules can the UK have “real leverage” in the negotiations.
Elsewhere, Dr Fox said he would accept an extension to the Brexit transition period for “technical reasons” in order to “get the right deal for Britain”.
“I wouldn’t have a major problem with that,” he said, “as long as it was very time limited and there was a unilateral mechanism for Britain to pull out if we thought that we were being kept in the European Union against our will.
He added: “If we do it slightly more slowly in order to minimise any disruption, that’s fine by me.
“Having waited 40 odd years to leave the European Union a few extra months doesn’t bother me if we are getting it right. I think it’s really important that we get that deal right for Britain and for Europe.”