Liz Truss delivered her first address at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva on Wednesday as she claimed Brexit meant 'Britain is back'. The International Trade Secretary said the UK has “a golden opportunity” to set our “own trade policy” for the first time in almost 50-years. The remarks from Ms Truss come as the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union at the end of this month, despite negotiations on a deal appearing to take a huge blow earlier this week.
In a statement released before her address, Ms Truss said: “When the UK leaves the EU later this month, we will have a golden opportunity to determine our own trade policy for the first time in almost half a century and retake our seat at the WTO as a fully independent, sovereign nation.
“And we will use our new-found freedom to champion free, fair, rules-based international trade with the WTO at its centre.
“Because there is no greater ally of the WTO than the United Kingdom.”
She added: “For those of you worried about where we might have been for 45 years, let me reassure you Britain is back.”
Liz Truss delivered a speech at the WTO on Wednesday
For those of you worried about where we might have been for 45 years, let me reassure you Britain is back
The comments from Ms Truss came on a visit to the WTO's Geneva headquarters on Wednesday, where she was seeking to ease fears of trade disruptions before a potential no deal Brexit.
Within the organisation, Britain has been represented by the European Union until now. It will get its own seat if it quits the EU as planned.
Ms Truss was also expected to attend a meeting with WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo later on Wednesday.
The International Trade Secretary added: “I would like to see reform of the dispute settlement system, and I was encouraged that at both of the major G20 and G7 summits this year, world leaders committed to addressing this issue.
“President Trump has said he wants the WTO to modernise, and I agree. We must work together to resolve the Appellate Body impasse and we fully support the Walker process aimed at finding solutions that all members can be happy with.”
Ms Truss also demanded action on liberalising digital trade and on fish subsidies negotiations.
And in a blow to protectionism, Ms Truss finished: “It will take time, energy and determination, but by working together, I am confident we can deliver a knockout blow to the forces of protectionism and usher in a new golden era of free trade.
“In all these fights ahead, Britain is in your corner.”
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The remarks from the International Trade Secretary come after Brexit negotiations appeared to be on the brink of collapse on Tuesday following a phone conversation between the Prime Minister and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Following the conservation, Downing Street sources said the German Chancellor had made clear a deal was now "overwhelmingly unlikely".
The claims provoked a furious response from outgoing European Council president Donald Tusk who accused the Prime Minister of jeopardising the future security of the EU and the UK.
He wrote: “Boris Johnson, what's at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don't want a deal, you don't want an extension, you don't want to revoke, quo vadis?"
On Tuesday the Government also published a ‘no deal readiness’ report, with Prime Minister Mr Johnson declaring that he can "confidently" say the UK is prepared to leave the EU without a deal on October 31.
The document includes details of the Government's attempts to make sure that citizens and businesses are ready for Brexit at the end of the month.
On Wednesday morning, reports claimed the Prime Minister is planning on summoning MPs to the House of Commons for an emergency Saturday sitting in Parliament on October 19 - just 24 hours after a crunch EU summit.
Government sources told Reuters ministers are planning to call the Parliamentary session - regardless of whether Mr Johnson is able to secure a fresh agreement from EU counterparts.
The EU summit on October 17 and October 18 is the last scheduled meeting of EU leaders before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU on October 31.
The proposed Parliamentary session is also the date in which the Prime Minister will be forced for another Brexit extension, under the Benn Act, if no deal has been approved by Parliament and a deal with the bloc has not been agreed either.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly said he will abide by the law but is also continuing to insist to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 - deal or no deal.