Liam Fox uses trade visit to Australia to renew attacks on Remain voters

PUBLISHED: 12:52 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:54 28 November 2017

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox


International Trade Secretary Liam Fox used a speech in Australia today to launch a series of volleys at voters who backed Britain remaining in the EU.

At a business event in Sydney to discuss how the two countries could work together in the future Dr Fox said Remainers were "wrong" and "unable to come to terms with the expressed will of the British people".

Saying that if the referendum were to happen again he would vote "with even greater relish, if that were possible" to leave the EU, he said he wanted to "build a partnership" with Australia - a country on the other side of the world with a population roughly that of Romania - "for the 21st century".

He said: "There were many... who condemned our democratic decision as the ultimate act of insularity.

"Some of them still do, unable to come to terms with the expressed will of the British people.

"They confidently predicted the UK would be left a diminished figure on the world stage, alone, friendless and isolated with a broken economy and shattered prospects. How wrong they have been.

"They not only misunderstood the fundamental motivations behind the Leave vote but also the intrinsic strengths of the British economy.

"This is not Brexit, but the emergence of a global Britain."

Naming Australia as "foremost among our Commonwealth friends", Dr Fox said Brexit would allow Britain to "strengthen these partnerships further".

Calling the UK the "technology capital of Europe", Dr Fox, who was forced to resign as defence secretary in 2011 after allowing his former flatmate and self-styled advisor Adam Werrity to attend meetings, said: "We must expand these industries which will be the foundation for future growth.

"The UK's economic future lies beyond the borders of Europe.

"[Brexit] was not a vote for insularity, but for mobility. Since my department was created, we've conducted almost 130 overseas visits across the world.

"What struck me most is the sheer anticipation for Britain's emergence as an unambiguously free trading nation.

"For the first time in almost four decades, the UK will have a fully independent trade policy. I hope to see our two nations form a strong and united defence of free trade."

Speaking of the ongoing Brexit negotiations, Dr Fox claimed Britain had made progress in the key areas and added: "We want to do a deal that's good for our people, for our investors, for our trading partners, but we are not afraid to not get one.

"It's very clear what we want - it's up to the EU to deliver on it."

He also reiterated his stance on the Irish border issue, saying it could only be sorted in phase two of negotiations, as the shape of the future trading relationship was a key factor.

As part of his visit to Australia, Dr Fox will meet trade policy organisations, business associations and British businesses, including BAE Systems.

He will also meet Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, minister for foreign affairs Julie Bishop and minister for trade, tourism and investment Steven Ciobo to discuss future bilateral trading relationships.

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