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Liam Fox warns Brussels not to blackmail Britain over Brexit bill

European Commission chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier had said trading negotiations were still “quite far” away.

Brussels must not be allowed to blackmail the UK into agreeing a divorce bill as the price for starting trade talks, the International Trade Secretary has warned.

Discussions on the future relationship between Britain and the European Union should begin now because they will benefit both sides, Liam Fox said.

European Commission chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said there had been no “decisive progress” on key issues during talks with the UK and trading negotiations were still “quite far” away.

Mr Fox has been in Japan with a delegation of 15 business leaders from the UK to drum up new trade for the UK.

Asked whether it was time for the UK to name its Brexit price, he told ITV News: “We can’t be blackmailed into paying a price on the first part.

“We think we should begin discussions on the final settlement because that’s good for business, and it’s good for the prosperity both of the British people and of the rest of the people of the European Union.”

Mr Barnier issued his warning on Thursday after the latest round of Brexit talks in Brussels.

He acknowledged there had been some “fruitful” discussions on the issues surrounding the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and Ulster, but struck a pessimistic tone overall.

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