Liam Fox slams Boris Johnson's 'bog roll Brexit' warning and insists he would be happy to stay in the EU 'a few extra months'

The Trade Supremo insisted it wouldn’t bother him if the transition period was extended by “a few extra months”.

It put him at odds with the Foreign Secretary who is eager to leave and warned the PM not to allow the process drag on. BoJo declared: “We don’t want some bog roll Brexit – soft, yielding and seemingly infinitely long.”

But Dr Fox said he’d be happy to let the process roll on a little longer, if it means making a clean break.

He said: “What I wanted was that we were outside of the single market, the customs union and the European Court of Justice. That’s where I think we’re going to end up.

“If we do it slightly more slowly in order to minimise any disruption, that’s fine by me. Having waited 40-odd years to leave the European Union, a few extra months doesn’t bother me if we‘re getting it right.”

Dr Fox insists an extension to Article 50 to keep Britain in the EU beyond March 29 would be “politically unacceptable”. But on the second anniversary of the historic referendum, he said prolonging the implementation period beyond 2020 would not be a problem.

The minister told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: “If the transition period had to be extended for technical reasons with the backstop…and we already had the withdrawal agreement and future economic partnership agreed, I wouldn’t have a major problem with that.”

He stressed that any extension must be “very time limited” and there must be a mechanism for Britain to pull out if we thought we were being kept in the EU against our will.

The clash comes ahead of Theresa May’s trip to Brussels this week for her first showdown with EU chiefs since she saw off Brexit rebels to get the Withdrawal Bill through Parliament.

Senior ministers have urged her to show she is prepared to play hardball and insist that talks no turn to our future trade relationship. Dr Fox warned EU negotiators would be unwise to think the PM is “bluffing” about the possibility of walking out without a deal.

He told the BBC: “The Prime Minister has always said that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and that no deal would be better than a bad deal.

"I think it’s essential, as we enter the next phase of the negotiations, that the European Union understands and believes it.

"Our negotiating partners would not be wise if they believed that the Prime Minister was bluffing.”

The minister warned that the economic impact on EU countries would be severe if they failed to strike a deal.

But he said staying in the single market would be unacceptable because it would imply continuation of free movement of people and staying under the jurisdiction of the European Court.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith today urges Mrs May to leave her business card on the table and walk away if EU chief rebuff he demands to talk trade.

He told The Sun on Sunday: “She should say ‘Here’s my number. Give me a call if you change your mind’ and catch the next train back to London.”

  • Tens of thousands of people marched through London to demand a final vote on any exit deal.

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