Government minister Liam Fox has been blasted after dismissing fears of uncertainty even as his government stumbles towards cliff edge.
by: ANDY PHILIP
A Tory government minister was blasted for dismissing fears for years of uncertainty as Britain leaves the EU.
Liam Fox shrugged off worries about a lack of clarity by insisting long lasting transitional arrangements are “not a huge deal”.
Fox previously said he’d be happy if interim measures last a few months.
But in a BBC appearance yesterday, he appeared comfortable if they lasted to 2022.
The lack of clarity about the UK’s exit led to claims the Tories are in chaos.
Fox told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “Having waited for over 40 years to leave the European Union, 24 months would be a rounding error. It’s not a huge deal and neither is it an ideological one.
“I think we would want to get it out of the way before the election, I don’t think people would want to have it dragging on.”
Stephen Gethins MP, the SNP’s Europe spokesman, said: “It is now well over a year since the EU referendum but chaos, confusion and division continues to reign at the heart of government.
“It is astonishing that after all this time Tory ministers are still discussing whether or not to have a transitional agreement, never mind all the other key issues that are still to be decided.
“Liam Fox bears particular culpability, given he was part of the Vote Leave campaign that wouldn’t even tell us what leaving the EU would mean.
“That irresponsibility goes to the heart of why we are in this situation, and the lack of preparedness continued by this government will impact on each and every one of us in its impact on jobs, the economy, the environment, and opportunities for young people amongst many other areas.”
The need for some form of transitional arrangement has been backed by business and by Labour.
But Lesley Laird, Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary, said: “Unfortunately, Tory ministers are still intent on pursuing a race-to-the-bottom Brexit that risks our economy and presents a threat to jobs and investment.
“Labour is clear that jobs and the economy must come first in the Brexit negotiations. We would deliver a job-first Brexit as part of our plan to create a country that works for the many, not the few.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was also under pressure for his hard stance against continued membership of the EU single market for trade.
Former frontbencher Chuka Umunna, who rebelled over Corbyn’s EU position, said other countries are in the trading area but not the wider union.
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said he had been in talks with members of the shadow cabinet and Conservative backbenchers over the fight against Brexit and said Labour MPs were being “intimidated” and told to “toe the line or else”.
The party’s Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to stand up for the single market is a betrayal of future generations who will suffer most from an extreme Brexit.
“He is parroting the lie used by leading Brexiteers that membership of the single market is the same as staying in the EU.”