Liam Fox. Photo by Government of UK (Creative Commons/Wikipedia)
We waited, waited and waited and finally the man who described Britain’s bosses as “fat and lazy” (Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade) made his first major speech about the UK’s plans for Brexit. Yes, I voted remain and lost but I have accepted the outcome of the vote, that’s democracy for you and we need to make the best of it. I only wish that this opportunity (as it is being presented) was actually being handled with people who posses more than three brain cells – between all of them.
So we waited, and live from Manchester the speech we had all been waiting for came, went and disappeared into the great speech heaven in the sky. The speech was certainly long on detail about the benefits of free trade and went to great lengths to repeat again and again the benefits of free trade. I should say that any reader of The Economist, The Spectator or even The Daily Telegraph may already have understood this without need for such a tedious speech. As the speech progressed we were presented by some surprising moments including a section on the benefits of free trade. It is unfair to say that he talked only about the benefits of free trade for example he did talk about how Britain was once a great force for good in the world through colonisation (without saying it explicitly) and how free trade was a key part of this. Indeed I am sure we all celebrate the working conditions on the many tea and sugar plantations across the world and the compensation which was given to many leading Slave Trading Conservatives when their business practices were outlawed. Many of these Conservative families now sit in the House of Lords and have used their slave trading compensation to very effectively to build alternative business empires. Well done to them, it shows that Conservatives are not incapable of change.
Sadly though, beyond pitching a hard Brexit (which means the UK will operate under WTO trading rules) there was absolutely no detail. Ok that is not fair he did say the EU should give Britain full access to the single market and perhaps even a better deal than it has now. I am sure that is going to happen.
Even when given a chance to provide a concrete answer to a question about how the Government would help SME’s who may find it more difficult to get work permits for talented people from the EU post Brexit he did what most lying politicians do i.e. provided a non-answer to a question which wasn’t even asked.
I will give him some credit though, he is entirely right that the UK needs to export more but do keep in mind it is since the Conservatives came into power in the 1980s that the UK has had a near continual trade deficit. Indeed as he pointed out only 11% of UK companies export compared to 47% in Germany. However, it was his own party which created this mess and to this day continues to make it even worse. As Brexit becons, I am sure those in the North who voted to leave will be delighted to see the back of Nissan. Nissan, you are very welcome to relocate your plant to The Greater Region (Germany, Luxembourg, France and Belgium), we already have a thriving car parts manufacturing sector and a ready skills base as companies such as Ford, Opel and PSA are located not far away and of course not forgetting the many excellent German car manufacturers who are not located far away either. Just drop me a line and I will put you in touch with the relevant people 🙂
Frankly if Liam, Boris and Dave are the best we have to handle Brexit God help us. I’d rather have skiing legend Eddie the Eagle Edwards handling our negotiations. After all for many years Britain was content to be the happy go lucky loser at everything, as Mr Edwards skiing efforts during the Thatcherite miracle of the 80s reminds us – it’s not the winning but the taking part that matters. But sadly Brexit means we are no-longer even taking part.