International Trade Secretary Liam Fox will call on MPs to get behind Theresa May’s divisive Brexit deal, saying politicians “cannot always have the luxury of what we want for ourselves”.
Taking centre stage as the Prime Minister’s Brexit media blitz turns to international trade on Friday - as predicted by the leaked plan by Number 10 - Fox will tell colleagues on both sides of the Commons that “the divisions of the referendum need to be consigned to the past”.
Fox's intervention comes a day after key Eurosceptic cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom threw her weight behind May's deal, while Michael Gove is set to be unleashed as the PM's "secret weapon" in selling the proposal to Brexiteer Tories.
“The withdrawal agreement and the political declaration will not please everyone, and we have had some tough choices to make,” Fox is expected to say in a speech at Portbury Royal Docks near Bristol.
“But the deal we’ve reached will give us a firm and stable base on which to leave the EU and build this country’s global future, a future that still encompasses Europe, of course, but also the wide fast-growing markets beyond, with all the opportunity that entails.”
Fox, who signalled in August that no-deal was the most likely outcome of the Brexit negotiations, will call on MPs to unite in order to lead the UK “to a future of freedom, success and prosperity”.
“In politics we cannot always have the luxury of doing what we want for ourselves, but we have an abiding duty to do what is right for our country,” he will add.
The secretary of state’s comments come amid a growing Brexit rebellion on the Tory benches, with as many as 90 of May’s own MPs expected to vote against her deal on December 11, along with much of the Labour Party and the DUP.
HuffPost UK revealed this week that May had been forced to shelve the unveiling of the NHS long-term plan until after the vote due to rising Conservative unrest, with the PM and her team focussed on whipping up support for the deal.
But Fox will use his speech to remind the public there is “a world beyond Europe and a time beyond Brexit”, painting a rosy picture of Britain’s post-Brexit export opportunities.
“In 2017 we saw total UK exports rise by 10.9% compared with 2016,” he is expected to say.
“And what did we sell? We sold almost £50 billion worth of mechanical machinery, £41 billion worth of motor vehicles, £16 billion worth of aircraft and £14 billion worth of medical equipment.
“And, as I have to mention on St. Andrews Day, some £4.3 billion of Scotch Whisky.
“So much for Britain not making anything anymore.”