The UK’s International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, has said Brexit was a “golden opportunity” and that it was “100% wrong” to say the vote was a sign of Britain looking inwards.
He said, in a recent speech, that free trade had “transformed the world for the better”, and that the UK had “a golden opportunity to forge a new role for ourselves in the world”. He predicted the UK would “carry the standard of free and open trade as a badge of honour” once it leaves the EU.
He also said getting a “good future model” was more important than a speedy Brexit.
Analysis of Liam Fox’s comments by the BBC’s James Landale states that “Liam Fox is aiming high… he wants it [Britain] to have a trade environment with European economies that is at least as free as it is now.
He also said for the first time that he wanted a post Brexit Britain to be a “full independent member of the World Trade Organisation”, a clear signal that he does not believe the UK should seek what’s called a “soft” Brexit involving membership of the EU single market or customs union.
Mr Fox’s argument is that EU leaders will not want to impose punishing new tariffs on British goods and services for fear of harming their own economy. However, hoping for a trade deal with the EU as good as it is now will be seen by some as highly optimistic.
Italy’s prime minister said it would be “impossible” for Brexit talks to result in a deal that gives Britons more rights than others outside the EU. Markus Kerber, the head of the influential BDI which represents German industry, said a so-called “hard” Brexit, rather than a “fudge” or “soft” Brexit, was the only option and predicted the UK would not secure full access to the EU single market if it wanted to curb migration.