Post-Brexit UK could stay partial member of EU Customs Union, indicates Liam Fox


The UK could remain a partial member of the EU Customs Union after Brexit, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has signalled.

Dr Fox insisted Brexit was not like a "boiled egg" and there were more options than going for either a hard or soft withdrawal from the EU.

Remaining a full member of the Customs Union means the UK would have to keep the same international tariffs as the EU which would severely hamper Britain's ability to cut free trade deals after Brexit.

Dr Fox told BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "We want to look at all the different things, it's not binary.

"I hear people talking about hard Brexit and soft Brexit as though it's a boiled egg we are talking about, it's a little more complex. So, Turkey, for example, is in part of the Customs Union, but not other parts."

The Cabinet minister refused to be drawn when asked if he could support staying in the Customs Union, saying: "I'll argue my case inside Cabinet."

Dr Fox added: "The Government will come to a collective view on this once we have looked at all the issues.

"We can't go for a quick result, we have to get the right result. And whatever result we do come to, we have to be able to put in front of the British people the reasoning for coming to that result."

Asked if it would be possible to revoke the Article 50 mechanism which launches the Brexit divorce negotiations once it is triggered, Dr Fox said: "I think once we get there it is not a matter of legality, it's a matter of democracy.

"The public voted to leave the European Union. Constitutionally it's the job of the Government then to carry out the public's instruction and provide that plan. It's, of course, Parliament's job to scrutinise what that is.

"The public have voted for us to leave the European Union and as we get into 2017, I hope that people will actually accept that the public have given us an instruction."

Dr Fox ruled out a snap Brexit election next year if the Government lost votes in Parliament.

"No, I think that the last thing we require is political uncertainty. We are going to have elections in the Netherlands, and France and Germany. I think that's quite enough instability for Europe in 2017."

Dr Fox again insisted that the UK must take control of immigration, despite Brussels saying this would not be compatible with membership of the Single Market.

"I think the public have also made it very clear that they don't want to see uncontrolled migration in the UK, and they don't want to see us being governed by the European Court.

"We have to listen to what was not a consultation with the voters, but an instruction from the voters."

Dr Fox said he was "instinctively a free trader", adding: "At the moment, the only place where people are talking about imposing impediments to trade and investment which don't exist at the present time is in the European Union, and in an economy that's relatively flat, that doesn't make sense."