- The international trade secretary had promised to immediately roll over all of the UK's free trade agreements with third countries as part of its EU membership.
- Liam Fox told conservative activists: "All these weak hearts say we can't do it – it's absolutely nonsense."
- But British government officials say none of the 40 trade agreements is on course to be signed immediately after the UK leaves.
- Fox also promised that a Brexit Free Trade Agreement with the EU would be the "easiest in human history."
The international trade secretary promised that Britain would immediately roll over all 40 free trade agreements it has with third countries as part of its membership.
"We need to replicate the 40 EU free trade agreements that exist before we leave the EU so we have no trade disruption." Business Insider revealed Fox told a conservative party-fringe event in Manchester back in 2017.
We'll have up to 40 ready in a second after midnight in March 2019
"I hear people say" Oh, we don't want anyone [free trade agreements] before we leave. "Well, believe me, we" I have up to 40 ready in a second after midnight in March 2019, "he told him he heard conservative activists.
The trade secretary added that" All these weak hearts say we do not can do it – it is absolutely nonsense. "
A government official who saw how the negotiations progressed told the Financial Times that Fox was not on course to roll over the 40 offers he promised in time.
] "Almost none of them are ready to go now, and no one will be ready to go in March," said the paper official.
A spokesman for the International Trade Department told FT: "We are not commenting on leaks" , with another official insisting that many of the agreements are "in an advanced stage".
"Our priority is to ensure that there is no disruption to our global trade relations, with more DIT employees who has not been assigned any planning in recent weeks and we calls on companies to continue to plan a number of scenarios, "an international trade official said.
Fox has a record of making great promises on Brexit's progress. At the beginning of the Brexit negotiations in 2017, he promised that a new Brexit trade agreement with the EU would be "the easiest in human history" to sign.