Brexit will see the “emergence of a global Britain”, UK Trade Minister Liam Fox says as he looks to strengthen ties with Australia during his visit Down Under.
At a business event in Sydney on Tuesday, Dr Fox said Britain’s departure from the EU could signal an opportunity to build and strengthen relationships across the world.
Joking that if the referendum were to happen again he would vote “with even greater relish, if that were possible” to leave the EU, he said he wanted to “build a partnership” with Australia “for the 21st century”.
He said: “There were many … who condemned our democratic decision as the ultimate act of insularity. Some of them still do, unable to come to terms with the expressed will of the British people.
“They confidently predicted the UK would be left a diminished figure on the world stage, alone, friendless and isolated with a broken economy and shattered prospects. How wrong they have been.
“They not only misunderstood the fundamental motivations behind the Leave vote but also the intrinsic strengths of the British economy.
“This is not Brexit, but the emergence of a global Britain.”
Naming Australia as “foremost among our Commonwealth friends”, Dr Fox said Brexit would allow Britain to “strengthen these partnerships further”.
He cited existing partnerships between the two countries, including with brands such as Westfield and Macquarie bank as well as Australia’s pension fund AustralianSuper investing in the UK’s King’s Cross Central project, and said further ties could be forged in areas such as the technology industry.
“The UK’s economic future lies beyond the borders of Europe,” he said.
“(Brexit) was not a vote for insularity, but for mobility. Since my department was created, we’ve conducted almost 130 overseas visits across the world.
“What struck me most is the sheer anticipation for Britain’s emergence as an unambiguously free trading nation.
“For the first time in almost four decades, the UK will have a fully independent trade policy. I hope to see our two nations form a strong and united defence of free trade.”
As part of his visit to Australia, Dr Fox will meet trade policy organisations, business associations and British businesses, including BAE Systems.
He will also meet Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steven Ciobo to discuss future bilateral trading relationships.