Liam Fox launches UK’s bid to join WTO as independent member

Trade secretary Liam Fox yesterday launched Brexit Britain’s bid to become an independent member of the World Trade Organisation.

In a formal statement, the Tory said the Government was “preparing” the groundwork to split from the EU at the 164-member organisation.

He said the UK was preparing a draft schedule of trading commitments – from tariffs to quotas – adding that Britain would seek to “replicate” the current obligations it has as an EU member. Mr Fox said: “This work is a necessary part of our leaving the EU. It does not prejudge the outcome of the eventual UK-EU trading arrangements.”

The Government was immediately accused of driving Britain towards an “economically disastrous” hard Brexit by Lib Dem leader Tim Farron.

He added: “The Liberal Democrats believe that the public should have a say through a vote on the final deal, because departure is not the same as direction.”

Brexit Secretary David Davis and Chancellor Philip Hammond held a joint meeting with City and bank chiefs to “discuss the opportunities” offered by Brexit. The talks followed a flurry of speculation over the weekend that the pair were now working together on Britain’s departure from the EU and had formed a “small clique” in Government.

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