Britain is aiming to resolve its future relationship with the EU by 2020, the U.K.’s International Trade Secretary Liam Fox told the Wall Street Journal, adding that the government would probably try and secure a free trade agreement with the bloc rather than enter a customs union.
Speaking during a visit to the U.S., Fox said “the first thing is to dispel the idea that Britain leaving the European Union was somehow an anti-free market decision … In fact, it was the reverse: in my view, it was about Britain becoming a much more outward-looking country.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that Fox said London would probably seek a free trade agreement with the EU, rather than a closer “customs union” that could limit its ability to negotiate lower tariffs with other trading partners.
Early next year could be the best moment for the government to trigger the start of formal negotiations with the EU (which could take up to two years) on Britain’s departure, Fox said, adding that the precise timing is still being debated.
He said the U.K. wants its new relationship with the EU resolved by the next general election in 2020.