International trade secretary Liam Fox has urged Brexit negotiators to "keep the temperature down" as talks enter the critical future relationship phase.
Speaking at this morning's annual British Chambers of Commerce conference, the minister talked up the opportunities available to the UK after Brexit, pointing to the IMF's prediction that 90 per cent of growth would occur outside the EU. It was important to identify not just which markets we would be selling into, but what we would be selling, he added.
But he acknowledged that a good deal with the bloc would be essential and that we were reaching a pivotal moment in discussions.
"I do believe rationality will win the day," he said, adding it was in "all our interests to keep the temperature down".
He urged the EU to take a more pragmatic approach in order to reach a deal that could satisfy both sides.
“That is largely dependent on the balance between the political ideology of an ever closer union that sees Britain’s exit set as example to others that it is painful,” he said
“The idea of punishing Britain to me is not the language of a club, it is the language a gang.”
Fox was speaking a day after chancellor Philip Hammond rejected the EU's refusal to consider a trade deal including financial services, stressing the need for a more imaginative, less precedent-based approach.
His intervention won broad backing from City and business bodies.