Tory Brexiteer Liam Fox vows to fight Trump’s steel tariffs… by ‘working closely with the EU’

Liam Fox brands Trump’s transatlantic trade war on steel ‘absurd’ as he pledges to lobby the US president to exempt Britain from the tariffs on his visit to Washington next week

-Donald Trump signed punishing new tariffs on steel at the White House last night

-Liam Fox said the idea of 25% charges was absurd but may not apply to the UK

-But Britain may not be able to get an exemption while the country is in the EU

-The White House’s action could trigger a full blown transatlantic trade war

Liam Fox highlighted the muscle of the Brussels-based European Commission as he addressed MPs on the crippling 25% tax.

The Trade Secretary will fly to Washington this week to battle the import taxes of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium.

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.”

Dr Fox said he had no choice but to work closely with the EU due to Britain’s continuing membership.

But Labour Remainer Chris Leslie urged him to see the dilemma as “an opportunity for us to work with our partners in the European Union”.

Dr Fox replied: “We will work with our partners in the European Union because we are under a duty of sincere co-operation and because it makes sense to do so.”

US President Trump signed the deal in the Oval Office surrounded by hard-hat-wearing workers last week as he declared: “If you don’t want to pay tax, bring your plant to the USA.”

Eloise Todd, chief executive of anti-Brexit group Best for Britain, said:“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.”

It comes as a report tonight reveals preparations for Brexit have cost taxpayers at least £400 million in this financial year.

So what do you think?

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