TORY Trade Secretary Liam Fox faces ridicule after he warned that a no-deal Brexit was now more likely than the UK getting an agreement with Europe.

Little more than a year ago, Fox promised that a post-Brexit free trade deal with the EU should be the “easiest in human history” to achieve.

But, speaking to a Sunday newspaper, Theresa May’s International Trade Secretary now put the chances of a no-deal Brexit at “60/40”.

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Fox claimed the blame for the lack of a deal lay entirely with Brussels’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.

“I think the intransigence of the European Commission is pushing us towards no deal,” he said. “We have set out the basis on which a deal can happen but if the EU decides that the obsession of the unelected is to take priority over the economic wellbeing of the people of Europe and it’s a bureaucrats’ Brexit, not a people’s Brexit – then there is only going to be one outcome.”

May met French president Emmanuel Macron on Friday to discuss her Chequers plan. It was reportedly an attempt to try to deal directly with one of the most powerful governments among the other 27 EU countries, rather than with Barnier.

Downing Street’s refusal to release details of what the two talked about and what was or was not agreed has fuelled speculation that May did not meet her objective.

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That, in turn, has fuelled speculation that the UK’s talks with the EU could be heading for collapse.

Fox claimed Barnier had dismissed Britain’s proposals “because we have never done it before” and argued that “makes the chance of no deal greater”.

He said if the EU didn’t like the UK’s proposals then it should provide answers of its own. “If they don’t like the one [deal] we have put on the table then it’s down to them to show us one that they can suggest that would be acceptable to us,” Barnier said. “It’s up to the EU27 to determine whether they want the EU Commission’s ideological purity to be maintained at the expense of their real economies.”

An exasperated Scottish Brexit Secretary Michael Russell tweeted a link to the newspaper story, saying: “It is deeply worrying that [Fox] understands so little about the #EU”.

In July 2017, Fox told Radio 4’s Today programme: “The free trade agreement that we will have to do with the European Union should be one of the easiest in human history.

“We are already beginning with zero tariffs, and we are already beginning at the point of maximal regulatory equivalence, as it is called. In other words, our rules and our laws are exactly the same.”

The only thing that made securing that deal tricky would be “because politics gets in the way of economics”, Fox added.

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Asked in October if he regretted those comments, he replied: “No, I don’t.”

Remain-supporting peer Andrew Adonis tweeted: “If Liam Fox’s trade deals were ‘the easiest in history,’ how come he now thinks we are probably leaving with no deal? Might he just possibly have been telling another Brexit lie?”

Fox’s comments came just days after both Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned a no-deal Brexit was possible.

The SNP’s Foreign Affairs spokesman, Stephen Gethins, ridiculed Fox’s comments and called on the Government to remain in the single market and customs union: “First it was Mark Carney, then Jeremy Hunt and now Liam Fox is saying we are likely facing a no-deal scenario when the UK leaves the EU.

“Theresa May must heed the warnings on what that would mean for the UK economy, jobs and livelihoods.”

Labour’s Keir Starmer tweeted: “No deal would be a catastrophic failure of government, which no government should survive. The cause: PM’s reckless red lines, Tory divisions & fantasy Brexiteer promises. Parliament has a duty to prevent it.”

No 10 insisted May remained confident that she can get a good deal from Europe.