Liam Fox has called for the “obsession with criticising Brexit” to end in 2018 as he insisted the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union “is not a time bomb to be defused”.
The International Trade Secretary said Britain’s divorce with Brussels represented a “great opportunity to be embraced” as he attacked critics who would “rather see Britain fail than see Brexit succeed”.
Mr Fox’s intervention came as he travelled to China to try to improve the UK’s trade and investment ties with Beijing.
Writing on the Conservative Home website, the leading Brexiteer said that one of the things he found most frustrating about 2017 was “returning from a positive and optimistic international visit only to encounter a wave of negativism at home”.
He said that interest abroad in investing in post-Brexit Britain was in “stark contrast to the self-defeating pessimism that is too often on show” in the UK from some politicians, pundits and media outlets.
“Attitudes need to change as we go into 2018; Brexit is not a time bomb to be defused, but a great opportunity to be embraced,” he said.
“Our international competitors are already out there trying to carve out their slice of the world’s growing markets.
“We need to get beyond the obsession with criticising Brexit, lift our horizons, and be out there, too.”
Mr Fox said that establishing an independent trade policy for the UK for the first time in four decades will allow Britain to pursue agreements with nations which the EU does not currently have free trade deals with.
He said: “It is worth remembering that the EU does not have free trade agreements with the US, China, India or the Gulf states, and though we are not able to negotiate new trade agreements while we remain within the EU, we have established 14 trade working groups across 21 countries, to help us prepare for Brexit.”