The International Trade Secretary has confirmed the government is making preparations to walk away from the European Union (EU) without a deal if the bloc plays “hardball” during Brexit talks.
“We are conducting extensive reviews across Whitehall on contingency [for] if we don’t reach a deal”, with the EU, Liam Fox told BBC Newsnight.
“But, we’re certainly not going to be telling those we’re negotiating with and certainly not on TV what those contingencies might be,” he added.
Dr. Fox had been questioned on what the government would do if the EU continued to play “hardball”, and warned that it would “not be wise” for the bloc.
He said that if the EU chose to make it “hard to access the UK, the world’s fifth largest economy, from Europe”, they could easily lose international investment.
He asked if “European politicians would sacrifice the prosperity of their own people to make a political point?”
When challenged, he said the UK “is not sacrificing its economic wellbeing”. Adding: “We want an open, liberal, comprehensive, trade deal” with the EU, but explained the government was preparing for that not to happen.
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) October 3, 2017
During another line of questioning, the long-standing Eurosceptic also implied the EU could collapse if its unelected leaders continued to ignore the democratic will of the European people in their drive to create a unified superstate.
The BBC presenter attacked Dr. Fox for his “optimism” for securing a deal with the EU and striking trade agreements across the world.
“Every answer is you hoping [the EU] will fall into line with your view rather than stick to the line that they’ve been taking,” Evan Davis said. “That’s optimism – and maybe they will, but maybe they won’t.”
Dr. Fox hit back: “And maybe elected governments who don’t take the prosperity of their own people into account or who drive a political agenda in a direction their people don’t want may not be the governments for all that very long.
“Many people in this country, including many Remainers, will have listened to what Mr. Juncker said the other week, which is ‘we do want ever closer union, we do want a single President, a single European army and a single economic policy’.
“I certainly feel totally validated in voting to leave after hearing that speech, I think many Remainers may question their decision too.”