Brexiteers at war as disgraced former defence secretary lectures Boris Johnson on conduct

PUBLISHED: 10:07 26 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:43 27 June 2019

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr Show. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr Show. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire.

The Brexiteers are back at war with disgraced former defence secretary Liam Fox attempting to lecture Boris Johnson on what is acceptable conduct in politics.

Fox, currently the international trade secretary, criticised Boris Johnson over his claims Britain could use international world trade rules to continue tariff-free trade with the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Johnson argued that a provision under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - known as GATT 24 - could be used to avoid tariffs under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules for up to 10 years.

But Dr Fox, a Brexiteer who backs Jeremy Hunt for the leadership, said that would require the agreement of the EU, which Brussels had made clear would not be forthcoming.

"In order to benefit from the terms of Article 24, there must be an agreement between two WTO members as to the elimination of duties and other restrictive regulations on substantially all trade," he said in an article posted on LinkedIn.

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"Therefore, Article 24 would not, by itself, allow the UK to maintain tariff-free trade with the EU in the absence of a negotiated agreement.

"A 'no deal' scenario, by definition, suggests that there would be no mutual agreement between the UK and the EU on any temporary or permanent arrangement. In those circumstances Article 24 cannot be used.

"The European Union has made it clear on a number of occasions that full tariffs will be applied to the United Kingdom in the event of 'no-deal'."

He added: "It is important that public debate on this topic is conducted on the basis of fact rather than supposition, so that we are able to make decisions in the best interests of our country."

It follows Fox's criticism of Nigel Farage, after he claimed he was attempting to create his own trade deal with America.

Fox was forced to resign from his role as former defence secretary under David Cameron for "mistakenly allowing" personal and professional responsibilities to be "blurred".

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