UK’s Fox backs short Brexit transition

LONDON • Trade Secretary Liam Fox, a leading advocate for UK departure from the European Union (EU), said he would be “very happy” with a transition period of “a few months” if it maintains stability as Britain quits the bloc.

The comments reinforce the split in Prime Minister Theresa May’s government over the issue. The position of Fox, who warned in December that such a deal would risk “diminishing” the will of British voters, puts him in direct conflict with Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, who wants a transition of as long as four years.

“We’re under time pressure to get a negotiation done, but if we have to have some kind of bridging mechanism that allows us greater time to get it right then of course we’ll look at that,” Fox said in an interview with Bloomberg TV yesterday. “If we have to wait a few months to get full implementation as the price for keeping stability, then I would be very happy to do that.”

Fox warned that lawmakers who try to hamper the progress of the Repeal Bill will increase the chances of Britain leaving without a deal.

“Those who try to derail this bill are increasing the risk of what they would call hard Brexit,” he said. “We are going to leave the EU and if we are unable to put the laws in place to provide that stability we’ll still leave. We simply will not have the legal framework that we want.”

The UK wants “minimum instability and market continuity” as it leaves the EU and a “family squabble” with European leaders risks getting in the way of a deal and damaging prosperity across the continent, Fox said. — Bloomberg