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UK trade secretary says Britain likely to leave EU without a deal

Liam Fox put the chances of a no-deal departure at “60-40″.

UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox
UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox
Image: John Stillwell via PA Images

THE CHANCE OF a no-deal Brexit is growing, Liam Fox has warned, as he blamed the “intransigence” of the European Commission.

The UK international trade secretary put the chances of a no-deal departure at “60-40″.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Fox said that he had previously not thought the prospects of a no-deal Brexit were “more than 50-50″, however, added that the risk of no trade deal had increased.

Pressure is growing on British Prime Minister Theresa May to win allies on the continent after her “Chequers plan” prompted two top ministers in her cabinet to resign in protest last month.

May has just a few months before an agreement on Britain’s divorce from the EU — set for 29 March 2019 — must be forged in principle ahead of a European summit in mid-October.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier has already shot down May’s proposed solution to keeping the frontier between the UK and EU member Ireland open without a “hard border”.

Under May’s proposal, a dual system of taxation would be introduced which would see taxes levied by each side of the Irish border for the benefit of the other.

Fox has said that he thinks “the intransigence of the commission is pushing us towards no deal”.

“We have set out the basis in which a deal can happen but if the EU decides that the theological obsession of the unelected is to take priority over the economic wellbeing of the people of Europe then it’s a bureaucrats’ Brexit – not a people’s Brexit – and then there is only going to be one outcome,” he said.

He added that Barnier had rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest plan, agreed by her cabinet, on the grounds that “we have never done it before” and argued that it “makes the chance of no deal greater”.

Fox then called on the EU to provide a solution of its own and “show us one that they can suggest would be acceptable to us”.

“It’s up to the EU27 to determine whether they want the EU Commission’s ideological purity to be maintained at the expense of their real economies,” he said.

May met with French President Emmanuel Macron on the Mediterranean coast on Friday to lobby for her Brexit plan, which has divided her government and so far failed to win over EU negotiators.

With reporting by AFP. 

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