Brexit: UK must not settle down for EU blackmail – British Trade Secretary

International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox has charged the UK not to allow itself to be “blackmailed” by the EU over its Brexit settlement bill in order to start trade talks.

According to the BBC, Fox argued that a bad Brexit deal would damage both British and European companies.

“Businesses have become impatient with the slow progress of the Brexit negotiations,” he added.

The latest Brexit talks which have failed to record a citable progress on the UK’s so-called divorce bill, has sparked frustration from both ends of the peace talk.

While the UK wants to begin trade talks as soon as possible, Brussels insists that the future relationship discussion can begin only the arrangements for withdrawal and “divorce fee” have been duly trashed.

EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier while judging from the status-quo said, he was quite far from being able to recommend opening parallel talks on a future trade relationship.

Although, no figure has yet been ratified for the divorce payment, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has suggested it could tune up to about 60bn euros (£55bn), while some unconfirmed reports estimated as high as 100bn euros (£92bn).

Mr Fox while speaking in Japan on Friday said, “everyone would benefit from Brexit if the outcome was free trade with no tariff barriers”.

Asked whether the UK was due to name its Brexit price, he told ITV News, “We can’t be blackmailed into paying a price on the first part (the divorce fee).

“We think we should begin discussions on the final settlement because that’s good for business, and it’s good for the prosperity both of the British people and of the rest of the people of the European Union,” he stressed.

Fox and Prime Minister Theresa May have been in Japan since Tuesday holding talks with Japanese leaders about the future of trading relations between the two countries after Brexit.

Mr Fox reiterated on BBC at the end of the three-day visit that, “It’s very clear that businesses, not just in Europe but investors in places like here in Japan, are getting impatient and want to see what that final shape of that [Brexit] arrangement is going to be.”

He said a willingness by the EU to heed the call of the UK and negotiate on the future trading relationship now would “unlock some of the tension”.

He added by asserting that it was a “mistake” for the EU to believe a delay in negotiating the economy and trading arrangement would not potentially damage them too.

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