UK trade secretary Liam Fox says the European Union’s refusal to renegotiate a divorce agreement is a sign the bloc is becoming “irresponsible” in its way of treating the issue of Brexit.
“It is in all our interests to get to that agreement and for the EU to say we are not going to even discuss it seems to me to be quite irresponsible,” Fox told Sky News in an interview aired on Sunday.
Fox, who has been regarded as a key ally of Prime Minister Theresa May in her efforts to secure a Brexit deal in the parliament, said the EU would be to blame if Britain crashes out of the bloc at the end of March with no agreement.
“Are they really saying that they would rather not negotiate and end up in a ‘no-deal’ position?” he said.
The trade minister also accepted the idea that Britain could consider a short delay in its EU departure to enable the government to obtain the required legislation from the parliament if there is a Brexit deal available by March 29.
Fox, however, refused proposals for delaying the exit date simply because there would be no divorce deal available by that time.
“I think to extend simply because we hadn’t reached an agreement would not provide any impetus for that agreement to be reached,” said Fox, adding, “There is a big difference between if we had an agreement and we need some time to get the legalities done, that is one thing.”
May determined to leave EU on time
After suffering a historic defeat in the Commons on her Brexit deal on January 15, May was allowed by lawmakers to go to Brussels and renegotiate a controversial clause in the agreement which sets out rules for future administration of the Irish border.
Critics say if May manages to remove or drastically modify the so-called backstop, she would certainly go through the parliament with the agreement she signed with the EU in November.
May’s government has reiterated time and again that the country would leave the EU at the end of March no matter if the House of Commons agrees to a revised version of the Brexit deal in the upcoming weeks.
In a Sunday article in The Telegraph, May said the departure date will not change and she was determined to “deliver Brexit on time”.