International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has slapped down Nigel Farage, telling him he does not speak for the UK on the international stage.
The comments appear to be connected to last week’s state visit by President Donald Trump, when Brexit Party leader Mr Farage claimed the UK was “behind the curve” on plans for a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.
In a series of tweets, Dr Fox denied this, stating “only the UK Govt speaks for our country internationally” in a direct riposte to Mr Farage’s attempt to muscle his way into negotiations.
Rejecting Mr Farage’s assertion the UK did not have “competent” trade negotiators, Dr Fox insisted he had a “large team of expert staff”.
But he also flagged up that they would be ready to begin negotiations once the UK had left the EU and not before, which is not allowed under international law.
He stressed those talks on a large-scale trade deal would not only be with the US but also Australia and New Zealand.
The International Trade Secretary also accused Mr Farage of “misleading” people over what the UK was able to do while still a member of the EU.
He tweeted: “It is entirely misleading to suggest that we could already be negotiating trade agreements.
“You know full well that we cannot begin formal negotiations until we have left the EU.
“We have been laying the groundwork for UK/US FTA, including through our joint UK/US working group.”