A former Treasury minister has described Boris Johnson as “ludicrous”, as he criticised the Government’s approach to future trade deals after Brexit.

Lord O’Neill of Gatley said it was “mad” that International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and the Foreign Secretary “spend half of their time travelling to New Zealand” instead of building relationships with the likes of China.

In an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt, the independent crossbencher and former Goldman Sachs chief economist said China’s growth just this year would match Australia’s entire economy.

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Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox Lord O’Neill criticised Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox for travelling to New Zealand when they should be focusing on China (Victoria Jones/PA)

Lord O’Neill said: “If you look at China’s growth in US dollar terms, the country will achieve a national economy the size of Australia this year. And four times New Zealand.

“And trade minister Liam Fox and our ludicrous foreign minister spend half of their time travelling to New Zealand. It is mad, mad.”

Responding to his comments, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said: “The future of our country is resting in their hands yet they have shown time and time again that they have a chronic misconception of how the modern, globalised world works.”

Sir Vince added: “Of course it is right to disown (US president Donald) Trump’s nationalistic and short-sighted approach to Pacific countries but far-flung trade deals will never compensate for leaving the world’s largest market sitting on our doorstep.”