Liam Fox slapped down by May after accusing British business of not wanting to trade abroad

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox

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International Trade Secretary Liam Fox
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Reuters/Pierre Albouy

  • The Trade Secretary has accused British businesses of not being enthusiastic enough about global trade.
  • Liam Fox said Britain must “get more of our companies to think about exporting overseas.”
  • However, his comments are slapped down by Downing Street, which insists Britain has a “good record” on exports.
  • It’s the Brexiteer’s latest attack on British business after he described it as “too fat and too lazy” in September 2016.

LONDON – Liam Fox has been slapped down by Theresa May after he accused British businesses of undermining his efforts to make post-Brexit Britain a great trading nation by not wanting to export their goods around the world.

The International Trade Secretary told The House Magazine: “I can agree as many trade agreements as I like, but if British business doesn’t want to export, then that doesn’t do us any good.”

“We need to do an awful lot better with the markets that we already have access to globally, our trading performance still needs to improve, notwithstanding a more than 13% increase in trade in the last year,” Fox said.

“We’re still way behind where our economy needs to be. So, we need to think about how we can make our economy export ready, and more investment ready as well, and how we get more of our companies to think about exporting overseas.”

However, his comments were slapped down by Theresa May this morning, who insisted that British business has a good record on exports.

“The UK has a good record for exports,” a spokesperson for the prime minister said on Friday.

“We have a good record here. Exports rose by 13.6% to 502 billion in the latest year on year figures. So we want to build on that and do more to help exporters.”

They added: “We are running successful campaigns to sell more overseas. We are committed to helping British business make use of the opportunities that are available both now and after Brexit.”

“What we’re focused on is ensuring we are doing more to help British business export.”

Fox’s comments are the latest of his attacks on British business. In September last year, he claimed that Britain had become “too fat and too lazy” and said business bosses would rather spend their time playing golf.

Fox and his department are tasked with creating new trade links between Britain and countries around the world in preparation for life outside of the European Union and the single market.

The Conservative minister told activists at the party’s Manchester conference in October that he’d sign off 40 free trade deals within seconds of Britain officially leaving the EU in March, 2019.

“I hear people saying ‘oh we won’t have any [free trade agreements] before we leave’. Well, believe me, we’ll have up to 40 ready for one second after midnight in March 2019,” Fox claimed.

“All these faint hearts saying we cannot do it – it’s absolute rubbish.”

Fox also told House Magazine that the press has been creating false stories about Brexit negotiations.

“The media are not party to our internal discussions. And so, a lot of stuff gets made up. But you know, that’s what we get,” he said.