As the secretary of state for international trade and president of the board of trade, Liam Fox is one of the most powerful politicians negotiating Brexit.
But who is Liam Fox and what exactly will he be doing during Brexit negotiations?
Fox is a former GP and Civilian Army Medical Officer who is the MP for North Somerset.
He’s been an MP since 1992 and a contender for Conservative leadership in both 2005 after Michael Howard stood down and 2016 when David Cameron stood down. He did not succeed on either attempt.
Once David Cameron became leader of the Conservatives in 2005, he named Fox his shadow defence secretary.
Fox became defence secretary in 2010 following Cameron’s election. He resigned from the position in disgrace in 2011 when it became known that his close friend Adam Werritty had been admitted to defence meetings.
When Theresa May was elected prime minister, Fox was made international trade secretary, a new cabinet office.
What did Liam Fox think of Brexit?
Liam Fox was is a staunch Brexit proponent.
He was, in fact, one of the first Conservatives who spoke out in favour of leaving the EU. Speaking to Politics Home, Fox made very clear the reasons that he was keen for Britain to leave the EU:
I want to leave because I want to get control over our lawmaking, and I think people that live under the law should always be able to throw out the lawmakers if they don’t like them. I want to get control of our borders to determine who can and cannot settle in the UK. And I want control over our financial arrangements without the regulatory distortion of the EU or the impact of our budgetary contribution. For all of those reasons, I’m very, very clear why I want to go.
In a speech made in 2010, Fox was also critical of the EU’s defence plans. He argued that the plans undermined NATO and thus would leave the UK and Europe more at risk and with less of an influence globally.
What does Liam Fox have to do with Brexit now?
In short, Fox’s new position as international trade secretary means he is the one who’ll be tasked with hashing out trade agreements between Britain and other countries around the world in the wake of Brexit.
It will be Fox’s responsible to negotiate Britain’s exit from the EU single market and customs agreement. In addition, Fox will have to work out a new trade deal with the EU. He’ll also plan trade deals with other countries after Britain has left the EU.
Essentially, this means that Fox is one of the most important figures in negotiating the terms of Brexit. Speaking on BBC Radio 4 in July, Fox seemed confident:
The free trade agreement that we will have to do with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history. We are already beginning with zero tariffs, and we are already beginning at the point of maximal regulatory equivalence, as it is called. In other words, our rules and our laws are exactly the same. The only reason that we wouldn’t come to a free and open agreement is because politics gets in the way of economics. What we are doing is to discuss at the WTO why Britain believes in free trade, why we reject the concepts of protectionism, why we think that we need to liberalise the services economy globally.
Fox appears so confident that he says Britain could survive leaving the EU without a fully-formed trade deal in place:
We don’t want to have no deal. It is much better that we have a deal than no deal. We can of course survive with no deal. And we have to go into a negotiation with those on the other side knowing that’s what we think.
Who knows which the of the two options Brexit will result in, but Liam Fox will decide which.