Brexit Secretary David Davis used a high-profile speech in the US to send Donald Trump a blunt message on the dangers of protectionism.
He also pledged the UK would not engage in a regulatory “race to the bottom” and declared himself a “determined optimist” over the Brexit negotiations.
Speaking in Washington, Davis championed free trade as the best way to tackle the world’s “greatest social and economic challenges” before warning the west cannot turn its back on globalisation.
It comes amid widespread concern over Trump’s “America first” campaign.
“My message is clear: the answer to these challenges is not to turn inwards and become isolationist,” said Davis.
“The answer to the economic problems of the west cannot be to turn our back on globalisation and trade - it’s to lead the world forward once again.”
He said post-Brexit Britain would have an opportunity to lead a “race-to-the top” and act as a “global leader raising standards across the world”, stating that a regulatory race-to-the-bottom would mean “lower global standards for consumers and poorer prospects for our workers”.
But Davis was in the US after four days of negotiations in Brussels ended on Thursday with a frosty joint press conference with Michel Barnier and the EU chief negotiator slamming no “decisive progress”.
Labour said the stalling talks meant Davis’ bid to “appear statesmanlike” ended in him leaving the stage “looking like an extra from The Thick Of It.”
Davis admitted the third round of Brexit talks, which centred on the size of the divorce bill Britain owed, had been “tough”.
Davis said: “There are many that doubt this is possible but when I spoke to my European counterpart Michel Barnier I said to him once: ‘The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty’.
“And as ever on that front I am a determined optimist in this - we will get to those opportunities.
“Because fundamentally I believe that a good deal is in the interests of both the United Kingdom and the European Union and of the entire global community.”
Alison McGovern MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said: “David Davis went to Washington hoping to look statesmanlike, but he leaves it looking like an extra from an episode of The Thick of It.”
She added: “With the Government’s position on trade in chaos, and the negotiations stalling, the chances of a bad Brexit deal that hits the UK economy are increasing.”
Davis admitted the divorce bill talks were getting “tense”.
“What we have been doing, as you do if somebody provides you with a good bill, a large bill, is go through it line by line, and we’ve got very good lawyers. So, it’s getting a bit tense. But, it’s only early stages.”
He went on: “What we are having at the moment is the first ripple and there will be many more ripples along the way.”