Liam Fox says new EU trade deal should be 'one of the easiest in human history'

But the international trade secretary added Britain could 'off course' survive without a European deal leaving it to fall back on world trade rules.

International trade secretary Liam Fox said the UK’s Brexit talks should be “one of the easiest in human history” Getty

The UK's Brexit talks to leave the European Union should be "one of the easiest in human history", according to international trade secretary Liam Fox.

"We're already beginning with zero tariffs and maximum regulatory equivalence," he told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme. "In other words, are rules and our laws are exactly the same. The only reason we wouldn't come to a free and open agreement is if politics gets in the way of economics."

Fox is due to meet the World Trade Organisation director general Roberto Azevêdo later today (20 July) and make a speech in Geneva arguing that free trade should not be rolled back in the face of popular calls for protectionism.

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Fox, who campaigned to leave the EU, denied that he was planning for a situation in which the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Last week there were reports of cabinet divisions over Brexit, with Chancellor Philip Hammond saying last month that no deal with the EU "would be a very, very bad outcome".

Since conservative Prime Minister Theresa May lost her party's parliamentary majority last month after a weak general election, splits have opened up among cabinet ministers over whether controlling immigration or supporting the economy should dominate Brexit negotiations.

Fox said: "It would be much better if we had a deal, rather than no deal. We can of course survive with no deal, and we have to go into a negotiation with those on the other side knowing that's what we think."

Fox also stressed that leaving the EU meant quitting the single market and customs union, even if the UK first went through a transitional period.

He said: "I do think we have to leave the EU first of all to keep faith with the voters who instructed us to do that.

"You cannot leave the EU and be in the single market or the customs union."

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