INTERNATIONAL Trade Secretary Liam Fox has exposed fresh tensions at the top of the Government over Brexit after insisting Britain could not be involved in any customs union with the EU.

Speaking in Shanghai on the final day of Theresa May’s trade mission to China, Fox said remaining in a customs union with the EU after Brexit would prevent Britain pursuing other trading opportunities around the world. In contrast, the Prime Minister appeared to leave the door open to some form of customs agreement with the remaining EU27 – although she stressed that she wanted to strike free trade deals with other countries too.

“I do want to do those free trade agreements,” she said. “There is more trade that we can do even before we get to those free trade agreements.”

A Downing Street spokesman later confirmed the Prime Minister had “an open mind when it comes to these negotiations”.

However, Fox said one of the reasons for Britain leaving was that it would no longer be bound by EU external tariffs when it came to negotiating trade deals with other countries. “It is very difficult to see how being in a customs union is compatible with having an independent trade policy because we would therefore be dependent on what the EU negotiated in terms of its trading policies and we’d be following behind that,” he said.

“We have to be outside of that to take advantage of those growing markets. One of the reasons we are leaving the European Union is to take control and that’s not possible with a common external tariff.”