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Speaking to Express.co.uk, the Brexiteer MP for North Somerset said the Prime Minister was protecting “all eventualities” by putting forward the Internal Market Bill, as trade talks between the UK and EU crumble. The EU has made it clear it disapproves of the Bill because it overrides key elements of the deal relating to Northern Ireland.
But Mr Fox, who has passed the second round of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General selection, said: “I think it is very clear that there are a number of complexities in this with the Northern Ireland agreement and the Withdrawal Agreement.
“The government could want to assure they had all eventualities with the Bill.
“We will see how that progresses in the House of Commons and what measures the Government brings forward to deal with anxieties expressed in a number of clauses.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said last week trade talks were on the verge of collapse following Mr Johnson’s new legislation.
She said: “This Withdrawal Agreement took three years to negotiate and we worked relentlessly on it, line by line, word by word.
“And together we succeeded. And the result guarantees our citizens’ rights, financial interests, the integrity of the Single Market, and crucially the Good Friday Agreement.
“The EU and UK jointly agreed it was the best and only way for ensuring peace on the island of Ireland.
“We will never backtrack on that. This agreement has been ratified by this House and by the House of Commons.
“It cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded or disapplied. This is a matter of law and trust and good faith.”
Mr Fox also added the Bill was unlikely to hinder the UK’s ability to seek deals with non-EU countries.
It comes as the UK started trade talks with Australia today.
Trade Secretary Liz Truss announced the talks will focus on financial services, data, digital services and food and drink.
Last week, the UK also signed a deal with Japan that will aim to boost trade between the two countries by about £15billion.
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Mr Fox added how the WTO could benefit from a multi-lateral deal with Australia and the UK as well.
He told Express.co.uk: “All new free trade agreements are beneficial if they produce trade liberalisation, that is what we want to see.
“The WTO is a multi-lateral organisation and we will get most trade liberalisation when we can get it on a multi-lateral basis.
“Of course it is to be welcomed if you can get it from regional trade co-operations like the forthcoming Continental African pre-trade agreement or bilateral FTAs.”
He added the UK should also ensure it agrees an agreement with the EU that does not limit its chances of deals elsewhere.
Mr Fox said: “After the transition period, the UK will be free to proceed with free trade agreements with who we like.
“One of the elements that there is in the UK-EU discussion is not to have this concept of dynamic alignment where the EU can dictate to the UK what its future regulatory structure would look like and which might in some circumstances limit the UK.
“I think the best way forward is for the UK and the EU to reach an agreement that allows the UK to be free to reach those trade agreements in the same way the EU is able to do.”
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