Liam Fox: Emmanuel Macron 'completely wrong' to call 'no deal' a bluff

Aubrey Allegretti, Political Reporter

A senior government minister has slammed the French President for suggesting Britain is "bluffing" about a "no deal" Brexit.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said Emmanuel Macron was "completely wrong" that the cliff-edge divorce threat was simply a negotiating ploy.

He said the UK was pushing for a "full, open, comprehensive agreement with Europe" but would "prepare for the UK's national interest being defended if we can't get one".

Speaking to ITV's Peston on Sunday, the North Somerset MP said no deal was "not exactly a nightmare scenario" - ruling out any agreement that stopped the UK striking trade deals during a transitional period.

The comments come just days after Theresa May returned from an EU summit in Brussels.

She failed to move talks on to trade, but European leaders did "green light" preparations for them to begin in December.

Despite the concession, Mr Macron and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker suggested the UK's threat of no deal was not serious.

The recently elected French President said there was "noise" and "false information" about the scenario, while Mr Juncker said it had not come up once at the summit.

Labour's shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth has joined the attacks on a no deal threat.

He told Sky's Sunday with Niall Paterson: "The Government have said that their no deal posture is a negotiating tactic - completely undermining their ability to negotiate to use it as a tactic.

"It just shows you how hapless the Government's approach to Brexit is."

It comes after Brexit Secretary David Davis admitted in Parliament: "The maintenance of the option of no deal is both for negotiating reasons and sensible security."

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