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Liam Fox backs no-deal Brexit over ‘complete betrayal’ of extending talks

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Liam Fox
Liam
Fox

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  • Exclusive: Liam Fox warns Theresa May that extending
    Brexit negotiations would be a “complete betrayal” of the
    British public.
  • Speaking to Business Insider, the UK trade secretary
    said Theresa May should accept a no-deal Brexit over requesting
    more time to negotiate a deal.
  • He suggests voters are growing impatient with how long
    it has taken to agree Brexit.
  • May would suffer a major Conservative rebellion if she
    sought to extend talks.

 

LONDON & SAN FRANCISCO — Liam Fox has warned Theresa May that
extending Brexit negotiations would be a “complete betrayal,” of
Brexit voters, telling Business Insider that the prime minister
should commit to instead leaving the European Union with no deal.

The UK’s International Trade Secretary told BI that if at the end
of Article 50 talks there is no deal in place, the UK government
should crash out, rather than request more negotiating time.

Asked whether the UK should seek to extend talks if no deal is
secured by the time Britain is due to leave in March 2019, Fox
replied that May should instead “leave without a deal.”

“The public have told us, it
wasn’t a consultation, to leave the European Union, and the
public already wonders why it’s going to take more than four
years after the referendum for us to fully remove ourselves from
the EU,” Fox added.

“To attempt to extend our
membership even longer, many voters would regard as a complete
betrayal by the political class, and I think they would be
right.”

He accused the EU of pushing
Britain towards a no-deal scenario, telling BI that

if [the EU] keep saying
no to everything they will end up with no deal.”

If [the EU] keep saying no to everything they will end up with no
deal.

Fox, who campaigned vigorously for Britain to leave the EU, has
remained loyal to the prime minister despite the recent
resignations of two of his fellow senior anti-EU ministers, the
former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit secretary David
Davis, from the cabinet over May’s shift towards a ‘softer’ form
of Brexit.

However, any attempt to extend the Article 50 negotiating period
would likely lead to an attempt to topple May, with friends of
Fox telling Business Insider that any extension would be an
uncrossable red line for him.

The EU is risking a no-deal
Brexit


theresa may liam fox
Liam Fox and prime
minister Theresa May

Getty

The chances of a no-deal Brexit have risen significantly in
recent weeks as UK and EU negotiators have failed to make any
significant progress on fundamental issues which remain to be
solved in withdrawal talks.

On Thursday, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier,
dealt a huge blow to Theresa
May’s Brexit plan, declaring Brussels will not let the UK collect
EU tariffs after Brexit, as suggested in her Chequers agreement.

“The EU cannot and the EU will not delegate the application of
its customs policy, of its rules, VAT and excise duty collections
to a non-member who would not be subject to the EU’s governance
structures,” Barnier said.

Speaking to BI following Barnier’s comments, Fox insisted that
the prime minister’s Chequers plan was not dead, and accused the
EU of putting “political ideology” before both a Brexit deal and
the wellbeing on EU citizens.

“They [the EU] simply don’t want
to make this particular method [May’s customs proposal]
work.

“So it’s clear that it is
possible, but it requires political will to do so. The question
will be whether the EU 27 leaders are willing to see the
Commission’s political ideology put ahead of the economic
well-being of the people of Europe.”

The pro-Brexit minister then took
aim at the European Commission. “What the Commission seems to be
saying is look, there has to be Brexit on their terms, or no deal
at all,” Fox said. 

“Now, that may be in line with
their own theological attachment to ever-closer union and EU
treaties but it may have a large cost to EU member states, the
member states who require jobs, prosperity, and trade, because
they need to get elected, unlike the Commission
officials.”

He warned the EU that a no deal
will be the most likely outcome if it continued to be
inflexible.

“The EU then need to tell us how
they intend to get the frictionless borders that we want to see.
So they can’t keep rejecting things without telling us exactly
what it is they want,” Fox said.

“So negotiations will continue,
and we’ll want to know from them if they don’t want that as a
proposal, what do they want, because if they keep saying no to
everything they will end up with no deal.”

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