The UK looks set to crash out of the European Union without a Brexit deal due to the “intransigence” of the Brussels machine, Liam Fox has claimed.
The International Trade Secretary put the chances of a no-deal Brexit at “60-40” despite both sides saying they want to reach an agreement on the terms of the UK’s departure in March next year.
If the theological obsession of the unelected takes priority over the economic wellbeing of the people then it’s a bureaucrats’ Brexit.LIAM FOX
The prominent Brexiteer said he believed the risk of a no-deal scenario had increased, pinning the blame on the European Commission and Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
“I think the intransigence of the commission is pushing us towards no deal,” he told the Sunday Times.
“We have set out the basis in which a deal can happen but if the EU decides that the theological obsession of the unelected is to take priority over the economic wellbeing of the people of Europe then it’s a bureaucrats’ Brexit – not a people’s Brexit.”
He said Mr Barnier had dismissed the UK’s proposals in the Chequers plan thrashed out by Theresa May and the Cabinet simply because “we have never done it before”.
The government has admitted its proposals are unprecedented, but Dr Fox said Mr Barnier’s response “makes the chance of no deal greater”.
The Prime Minister held talks with French president Emmanuel Macron on Friday, cutting short her holiday to visit his summer retreat.
Ministers including Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab have also engaged in diplomatic activity in Europe in recent days as the government seeks to deal directly with individual governments in an effort to keep the Chequers plan alive.
In a warning to member states over a failure to find a deal, Dr Fox said: “It’s up to the EU27 to determine whether they want the EU Commission’s ideological purity to be maintained at the expense of their real economies.”
Meanwhile, former cabinet minister Priti Patel said Mrs May must ditch the Chequers plan, which would see a “common rulebook” for goods with the EU – effectively tying the UK to terms set by Brussels.
She said it did not meet the result of the referendum and “will leave us half-in and half-out, still bound to EU regulations and constraints”.
Calling for a looser free trade deal with the EU, she said the change would take “political courage, the kind of courage that appears to have been lacking”.
Meanwhile, former Labour cabinet minister Lord Blunkett, in a Sunday Telegraph article, rejected claims that people who voted to Leave over immigration concerns were “racist” and said the result would be the same if there was another referendum.