- Liam Fox promises he will have agreed dozens of international free trade deals within the next 18 months.
- International Trade Secretary says Britain will simply copy and paste existing EU deals with third countries.
- Fox accuses ‘metropolitan’ British media of talking down the UK.
- Fox insists Britain doesn’t need a free trade deal with the EU.
MANCHESTER — The British government will immediately agree 40 free trade deals with other non-EU countries the minute Britain leaves the European Union in 2019, Liam Fox promised last night.
The Secretary of State for International Trade insisted the UK would easily be able to copy and paste all 40 of the EU’s external trade deals “the second after midnight” on Brexit day in March 2019.
“We’re going to replicate the 40 EU free trade agreements that exist before we leave the European Union so we’ve got no disruption of trade,” Fox told a Conservative party fringe event in Manchester.
“I hear people saying ‘oh we won’t have any [free trade agreements] before we leave’. Well believe me we’ll have up to 40 ready for one second after midnight in March 2019,” he told cheering Tory activists.
The Trade Secretary added that “All these faint hearts saying we cannot do it – it’s absolute rubbish.”
Fox also dismissed claims that a no-deal Brexit would have a negative impact on the British economy.
Fox told another fringe event that while it would be “preferable” to reach a deal with the EU, Britain would “make a very good success out of” crashing out with no agreement and resorting to WTO trading rules.
“People talk about this as if it’s some sort of horror awaiting us,” the Tory minister said.
“But that’s how we conduct our business most of our time. The rest of the world trade on those terms. It’d be better if we got a fully comprehensive deal but we don’t need one.”
Fox accuses UK media of “talking down” the UK
Fox used his speech to accuse the “metropolitan” media of “talking down” the UK’s prospects post-Brexit.
“As I’ve been going around the world looking for trading opportunities for the United Kingdom and investment opportunities I find something that i don’t see in the pages of the Times or the FT or the BBC and that is a real belief in the quality of the United Kingdom,” he said.
He added: “It’s time we stop this dispiriting self-defeating pessimism and start to talk up this country…”
“The people who talk us down are in parts of metropolitan UK who don’t seem to like the decision we took to leave the EU.”
Fox earlier in the day criticised various media outlets including the BBC for their “damaging” and “pessimistic” view of what Britain can achieve outside the EU.
“I think it’s time that we stop this damaging, pessimistic view of our future,” Fox told a Conservative Home fringe event.
“Because I think as I go round the world, I find countries all the time who want to do business with the UK, who want joint ventures with British companies.”
He added: “It’s just that I don’t read that in the pages of certain newspapers — and I’m not even saying the three letters BBC.
“It’d be nice of some of the editorships of our press took the same optimistic view of our country.”
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