International trade secretary Liam Fox has said that Nigel Farage does not speak for the UK on an international stage after the Brexit Party leader claimed he was going to start his own trade deal talks with Donald Trump.
Farage claimed the UK was “behind the curve” on plans for a post-Brexit trade deal with the US and told journalists he was considering sending his own delegation to America to launch trade talks with Trump.
Speaking to the Mail Online the Brexiteer said he would approach leading British businesses “over the next few weeks or months – weeks probably” to assemble his own trade mission to Washington independent of the UK’s Department for International Trade.
But in a series of tweets, Dr Fox said “only the UK Govt speaks for our country internationally” in a direct riposte to Farage’s attempt to muscle his way into negotiations.
Rejecting Farage’s assertion the UK did not have “competent” trade negotiators, Dr Fox insisted he had a “large team of expert staff”.
But he also flagged up that they would be ready to begin negotiations once the UK had left the EU and not before, which is not allowed under international law.
He stressed those talks on a large-scale trade deal would not only be with the US but also Australia and New Zealand.
Fox also accused Farage of “misleading” people over what the UK was able to do while still a member of the EU.
He tweeted: “It is entirely misleading to suggest that we could already be negotiating trade agreements.
“You know full well that we cannot begin formal negotiations until we have left the EU.
“We have been laying the groundwork for UK/US FTA, including through our joint UK/US working group.”
Farage said he would put together a “small panel of industrialists, dealmakers, people who’ve been involved in business at a senior level, and I intend to request a visit to go and see Bob Lighthizer and to have a conversation.”
“And if we have to independently, as the Brexit Party, set up a blueprint for what needs to be done, we will.”