Australia seeking free trade deal with UK following Brexit vote

Prime Minister Theresa May calls her counterpart to discuss deal as Liam Fox claims 'around a dozen' other deals are being looked at ready for when Britain leaves the EU

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Indy Politics

Australia has called for a free trade deal with Britain as soon as possible, in a Brexit boost for Prime Minister Theresa May.

Ms May spoke to her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull on Saturday, who expressed his desire to open up trading between the two Commonwealth countries as a matter of urgency.

The new PM described the call as "very encouraging" and insisted it showed leaving the European Union could work for Britain.

She tasked newly appointed International Trade Secretary Liam Fox to begin exploring options and he has told the Sunday Times that he is "scoping" around 12 other deals.

Ms May said: "I have been very clear that this Government will make a success of our exit from the European Union.

"One of the ways we will do this is by embracing the opportunities to strike free trade deals with our partners across the globe.

"It is very encouraging that one of our closest international partners is already seeking to establish just such a deal.

"This shows that we can make Brexit work for Britain, and the new Secretary of State for International Trade will be taking this forward in the weeks and months ahead.

"Britain is an outward-looking and globally-minded country, and we will build on this as we forge a new role for ourselves in the world."

On Friday, Ms May told Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon she would not trigger Article 50 to leave the EU before getting UK-wide agreement, a potentially difficult objective given Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the bloc.

But Dr Fox claimed numerous non-EU countries had already asked Britain for a trade deal and said he was "scoping about a dozen free trade deals outside the EU to be ready for when we leave" – potentially in January 2019 – amid reports that he was preparing to fly to the United States next week.

He told the Sunday Times: "We've already had a number of countries saying, 'We'd love to do a trade deal with the world's fifth biggest economy without having to deal with the other 27 members of the EU'."

Press Association

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