Trade secretary Liam Fox today savaged Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit vision, saying remaining in a customs union with the EU would be a “complete sellout” for the UK.
This week the Labour party made a comprehensive shift in its Brexit policy; in a speech yesterday, Corbyn said the UK must negotiate a “bespoke” customs deal with the EU.
Read more: Jeremy Corbyn says Labour would seek a customs union with the EU
However, Fox has criticised the strategy. The Leave campaigner said it would limit the UK’s ability to negotiate new trade deals and would leave the country in a “worse position” as a result.
Corbyn’s Brexit plan would leave U.K. a colony of the EU – unable to take back control of our borders or our trade policy. White flag from labour before talks even begin.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) February 26, 2018
The Confederation of British Industry has been lobbying for the UK to stay in a customs agreement with the EU, arguing that the UK is not yet in a position to form an independent trade policy, a sentiment echoed by shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer over the weekend.
Starmer said the benefits of new trade deals would not outweigh the costs of failing to secure an agreement on customs with the EU.
But Fox has rejected this position, saying:
As rule takers, without any say in how the rules were made, we would be in a worse position than we are today. It would be a complete sellout of Britain’s national interests.
Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, said any final deal with the EU needed to take services into account.
“Liam Fox is right to make the case for a Brexit deal which delivers for all parts of UK economy and for the future of the UK’s international trade and investment. This is about securing the UK’s prosperity. Flexibility and forward-looking policies are essential,” he said.
“Frictionless movement of goods is a huge prize for any trade deal and should always be given a high priority. But we should not forget that services make up 80 per cent of the UK economy. We must have a final Brexit deal which works for goods and for services.”