The Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox is working with the European Commission to formulate a “measured and proportionate” response to the steel tariffs imposed by Donald Trump.

“Only the EU is big enough to take on the US,” said Fox.

“I really don’t know what we’ll do when we leave next year.”

Surrounded by workers in the White House, Mr Trump confirmed a 25% levy on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminium in response to an “assault on our country” from cheap overseas metal.

“I spoke to the President to try and get an exemption for the UK and he just said ‘make your steel in the US and you won’t have to pay the tariffs’,” said the Trade Secretary.

“I am flying to Washington next week to tell Donald Trump that his plans are absurd. I’m sure he will see my point of view.

“The EU is a huge market when all the countries get together and speak as one, so I’m confident we can get something agreed.”

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