Leading Brexiteer Liam Fox has called on the EU for help in combating the steep tariffs imposed on UK exports of steel and aluminium to the US by Donald Trump.
Fox campaigned on Britain being a global trading power that could take on the likes of the US and China alone, but now faced with a real threat to British industry the secretary of state for international trade has found he needs the help of Brussels to defend UK jobs.
Speaking to parliament, Fox made the case for a strong and “unified” European response and said the EU could introduce immediate duties on politically important industries in the US, pursue a dispute at the World Trade Organisation, and “apply a safeguard measure” to protect European steel and aluminium industries.
He 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.”
The disgraced former defence secretary added: “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.”
In response to the minister’s comments, leading anti-Brexit campaigner Eloise Todd commented: “Liam Fox is a clown and his sad Brexit joke has been shown up for everyone to see.
“Liam Fox is one of the biggest supporters of leaving Europe but even he has now called for cross government, Europe wide action to protect jobs from Trump’s steel tariffs.”
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, another leading Brexit figure, has come out in support of Trump’s decision to impose import tariffs on British steel and aluminium, which could cause the loss of hundreds of British jobs.
The tariffs, which are due to come into effect on 23 March, will not apply to Canada or Mexico after heavy lobbying by each government, but Trump has made no such concessions to American allies across the Atlantic.