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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Brexiteer Trade Minister demonstrates why we need the EU

Has Liam Fox finally got it? Have we witnessed the biggest damascene conversion since St. Paul started the trend all those years ago? It is doubtful, but if our Brexiteer Trade Secretary cannot recognise the contradictions in his own position over US steel tariffs then he is even less self-aware than I had given him credit for.

As the Mirror reports, Liam Fox has highlighted to MPs how the muscle of the Brussels-based European Commission is key to the UK tackling Trump's 25% tax on steel imports.

The tariffs, which come into effect on March 23, will not apply to Canada or Mexico and other "real friends" may win exemptions. Britain could seek to get exempted, but that may only be possible after a Brexit transition ends in 2021. Until then, Dr Fox told MPs Britain must co-operate with the EU - and so he listed the wide range of actions Brussels would take:

Speaking in Parliament, he declared the EU could introduce immediate duties on the US, pursue a dispute at the World Trade Organization and "apply a safeguard measure" to protect steel and aluminium industries.

Dr Fox told MPs: "We do disagree with the US decision to implement tariffs on steel and aluminium imports based on national security considerations.

"These unilateral trade measures have weak foundations in international law."

He added: "The government has worked closely with the EU as part of our unified response...

"It is important that the UK and EU response works within the boundaries of the rules-based international trading system.

"Over the coming days, we will be working closely with British industry and the EU to seek swift clarification and mitigation."

The fact remains that when taking on the might of the US, the UK needs the European Union. We cannot depend on Donald Trump's unpredictable and mercurial largesse after Brexit.

Whilst we are part of a powerful trade bloc we have the clout to try and force the US to back down. Once we are out we will be buffeted by the economic winds of fortune, just like every other isolated country.

It really is time to reconsider and to hold that referendum on the terms of our leaving.
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