International Trade Secretary Liam Fox put the chances Sunday of Britain leaving the European Union with no deal at 60-40, blaming the intransigence of Brussels.
Fox, a key member of Prime Minister Theresa May’s top ministerial team, revealed his fears of Britain crashing out of the EU in an interview with the London-based Sunday Times (ST) newspaper.
The ST quoted an unnamed source at 10 Downing Street saying both Britain and the EU remained confident of achieving a good deal.
Fox, who has just completed a trade mission to Japan, told the ST he had previously not thought the prospects of a no-deal Brexit were more than 50-50, but the risk of no trade deal with Brussels had now increased.
Fox accused Eurocrats of harboring a theological obsession with EU rules rather than economic wellbeing, which would lead to only one outcome, the report added.
The ST said Fox’s intervention comes amid growing fears about the potential collapse in talks over a post-Brexit trade deal.
Downing Street has so far refused to say what May achieved when she met the French president, Emmanuel Macron, in the south of France on Friday to discuss her soft-Brexit blueprint for a future relationship with the EU.
Fox commented if the European Commission doesn’t like the deal Britain has put on the table it’s down to them to come up with one that they suggest would be acceptable to Britain
“It’s up to the EU 27 (the member states of the EU) to determine whether they want the EU Commission’s ideological purity to be maintained at the expense of their real economies,” said Fox.
Fox’s comments come just days after Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned the dangers of a no deal exit were uncomfortably high.
Referring to efforts by a number of politicians, including some from May’s Conservative party, Fox added: “There are people trying to undermine, to block and to thwart Brexit and having fought so long and hard to get to this point, I don’t want anything done to jeopardize our exit from the EU.
“The most important thing is that we actually leave the EU in March of next year. And my job is making sure that Britain is match fit for whatever Brexit outcome we have.”
Meanwhile, prominent Brexiteer, former government minister Priti Patel, urged May in an article in the Sunday Telegraph to have the backbone and confidence to back Britain in negotiations with the EU.
Patel said Britain was in a strong position when it came to a future trade deal, writing: “We are dynamic, competitive and growing, while the EU desperately needs our money.
“We need to get past Remain versus Leave, past the endless refighting of the referendum, and the latest version of Project Fear and show genuine political courage and leadership,” She added.
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Commenting on May’s proposed Brexit blueprint, Patel said it would surrender Britain’s strength’s adding: “It means the EU will continue to take advantage of Britain.”
“The EU has signed up to free trade agreements recently with Canada and Japan they can do so with their largest trading partner,” said Patel.