EU will complicate trade talks if it aims to punish UK for leaving, says Fox
Brexit talks on a future trade relationship will only be complicated if the European Union decides to "punish Britain for having the audacity" to leave, Liam Fox has said.
The International Trade Secretary warned Brussels to put the prosperity of EU citizens ahead of any desire to make the UK pay a price for quitting the bloc, and sign a mutually beneficial trade agreement.
Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry warned that "intransigence" from Theresa May has left Britain "heading for no deal".
And Dr Fox said leaving without an agreement and trading on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms was "not exactly a nightmare scenario".
But he stressed he would "prefer to have a deal because it would give greater certainty and almost certainly greater openness" and said reaching agreement does not need to be complicated if there is political will.
"I don't think they're (the negotiations) difficult in terms of the trade law or the trade negotiations themselves. The difficulty is the politics," Dr Fox told ITV's Peston On Sunday.
"In other words, how much does the European Commission and the European elite want to punish Britain for having the audacity to use our legal rights to leave the European Union.
"That's the thing.
"And what will the price be for the prosperity of European citizens of that decision?
"I would hope that economic sense would dictate that we put the prosperity agenda of the whole of the European continent in a global context at the top of that agenda not ever closer union, in other words the drive by the Commission towards their political objective which has a near-theological level."