BP dismisses claims the UK would be 'diminished' by Brexit

Britain must leave EU's customs union to win trade deals with powerhouse economies like Australia, one of the country's top diplomats tells Britain

Australian High Comissioner Alexander Downer said a trade deal between his country and the UK could bring huge benefits to both

He said: 'We want to build back our trade with the UK. We could build substantially more trade if we were able to negotiate a free trade agreement with the UK

'If you remain in the customs union then you would have no control over an independent trade policy. In fact you'd have no control over trade policy at all

Countries like Australia, China, Japan, the US and so on would not be able to conduct trade negotiations with the UK, we would only conduct trade negotiations with the EU

You wouldn't be relevant to that, because you wouldn't have a say in those negotiations, they would be exclusively conducted by the EU

Australia is a key target for a trade deal and closer ties after March next year. Mr Downer told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: 'From Australia's point of view here's what we would like to see

Number one, we naturally don't want to see the EU and the UK introduce a whole lot of tariff barriers between them. There are none at the moment, we don't want to see that introduced. That would be damaging to the European and British economies but damaging to the global economy - that's what we are worried about

BP chief executive Bob Dudley dismissed claims the UK would be 'diminished' by Brexit but admitted the world was still 'confused' at the decision

Teresa May's government has pinned its post-Brexit hopes on a raft of new trade deals with nations around the world, including the United States, Australia and China

BP chief Mr Dudley told The Times: 'There are a lot of countries around the world that would like trade deals with Britain bilaterally down the road, I hear that a lot

I don't think British influence is diminished. BP works all over the world and I see the importance of Britain in what we do and how they view BP.'

Mr Dudley 'the world is confused about what to make of Brexit' but added that he was 'very supportive' of the prime minister's attempts to 'negotiate a very complex agreement

He warned: 'Most negotiations don't get done until right before deadline, so I think we are in for a year of uncertainty

UK Cabinet ministers are spending much of the half term break in Europe and around the world making the case for Brexit Britain