Post-Brexit Britain should be leading agitator for free trade - Boris Johnson

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Britain should become "the world's leading proselytiser and agitator for free trade" when it leaves the European Union, Boris Johnson has said.

The Foreign Secretary was speaking ahead of the launch in London of a new think tank designed to make the case for free trade.

He is being joined at Friday's launch of the Institute for Free Trade (IFT) at the Foreign Office by fellow Cabinet Brexiteer Liam Fox, who said there were "huge opportunities" for Britain in taking the message to emerging economies of the power of free trade to lift people out of poverty.

Mr Johnson said: "Free trade is not only the key to economic success, but also serves as a force for peace and progress in every sense, giving millions more people the chance to lift themselves out of poverty. We must ensure that global Britain breaks free of the constraints of the EU and becomes the world's leading proselytiser and agitator for free trade.

"I am delighted to attend the launch of the Institute for Free Trade and to support its noble mission. It is no exaggeration to say that the livelihoods of millions of people depend on its success."

International Trade Secretary Dr Fox added: "Our work as an international economic department has never been more critical in making the moral case for free trade to help provide economic stability and lift millions out of poverty whilst increasing productivity and offering consumers better choices.

"There are huge opportunities for the UK to be a global leader in helping growing economies realise the benefits of open and fair trade, and the launch of the Institute for Free Trade will further help us highlight the importance trade has on the prosperity of the world economy."

Dr Liam Fox
Dr Liam Fox said there are 'huge opportunities' for the UK to be a global leader in helping growing economies adopt free trade (David Mirzoeff/PA)

IFT president, Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, said Brexit provided an opportunity to "revitalise the global trading system".

"It's not every day that a G7 country gets to draw up new tariff schedules," he said. "If we open our markets, we can preserve the freest trade with our 27 EU allies while liberalising further with the other 162 World Trade Organisation members.

"To succeed, we must convince people that free trade, far from being exploitative, is the ultimate instrument of poverty alleviation, conflict resolution and social justice."