Crashing out of the EU would not be in the UK’s interests, staunch Brexit supporter Liam Fox has admitted.
However at the same time, the international trade secretary refused to support a customs union with the EU when Britain leaves on March 29 – one of the very things that could help to avoid Britain exiting the EU without a deal.
He also said Leave-voting MPs need to ‘honour the pledge they made to honour the result of the referendum’ – presumably even if that leaving without a deal, which he now says is not in the country’s best interests.
Even though the disgraced former defence secretary said a no deal situation is ‘survivable’ and that his department is making contingencies, he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday that ‘we really do need to avoid the disruption’ it would create.
He added: ‘It is in all our interests to get that agreement.
‘If we left the EU with no deal, there would be disruption to our trade and it wouldn’t be in our best interests to do that.’
However asked if a customs union would be an option to avoid a no deal scenario, he said: ‘No. It wouldn’t fulfil the promise we need to leave the EU.
‘We need to have an independent trade policy. If we have a customs union, I think it would be a bad place for the UK.’
He also said: ‘Those elected on that promise [to honour the Brexit referendum result] and don’t follow through will have a difficult time with voters – and if that happens they deserve it.’
He said: ‘You have got a leave population and a remain parliament. Parliament has not got the right to hijack the Brexit process because parliament said to the people of this country, we will make a contract with you, you will make a decision and we will honour it.
‘What we are now getting is those who were always absolutely opposed to the result of the referendum trying to hijack Brexit and in fact steal the result from the people.’