In response to comments from the Australian Trade Minister that “the UK is unable to negotiate or sign an agreement prior to the formal exit from the EU”, Pat McFadden said:
"As the Australians have made clear our priority must be seeking the best trade arrangement with the EU. Any new deals will be more comprehensive if the UK has maximum access to European markets, which means membership of the Single Market.
"If the UK is to leave the EU customs union to pursue bilateral agreements it is incumbent on the Government to provide a full analysis of the costs and benefits of that decision, including a timetable for new trade deals and details on what we hope deals will include."
This contradicts comments made by the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU in July:
“So be under no doubt: we can do deals with our trading partners, and we can do them quickly. I would expect the new Prime Minister on September 9th to immediately trigger a large round of global trade deals with all our most favoured trade partners. I would expect that the negotiation phase of most of them to be concluded within between 12 and 24 months.
“So within two years, before the negotiation with the EU is likely to be complete, and therefore before anything material has changed, we can negotiate a free trade area massively larger than the EU. Trade deals with the US and China alone will give us a trade area almost twice the size of the EU, and of course we will also be seeking deals with Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, the UAE, Indonesia – and many others.”
David Davis, Conservativehome, July 2016, http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/07/david-davis-trade-deals-tax-cuts-and-taking-time-before-triggering-article-50-a-brexit-economic-strategy-for-britain.html