Britain’s trade secretary has accused British business of becoming lazy and fat, hitting out at executives more interested in playing golf on a Friday afternoon than exporting products overseas.
Dr Liam Fox, who is responsible for establishing Britain’s place as a global player after it exits the European Union, told colleagues at a drinks reception for Conservative activists in the House of Commons this week that companies were not ready to take advantage of the trade deals he was planning to negotiate, according to The Times.
“If you want to share in the prosperity of our country, you have a duty to contribute to the prosperity of our country,” he is reported as saying, hinting that companies that do not take advantage of new export opportunities could face sanctions.
Dr Fox’s comments are likely to concern business leaders who generally favour a “soft Brexit”, rather than the harder line that Dr Fox favours.
Addressing supporters of the Conservative Way Forward group, Dr Fox is reported to have said: “This country is not the free trading nation that it once was. We have become too lazy, and too fat on our successes in previous generations.
“What is the point of us reshaping global trade, what is the point of us going out and looking for new markets for the United Kingdom, if we don’t have the exporters to fill those markets?”
He added: “We’ve got to change the culture in our country. People have got to stop thinking about exporting as an opportunity and start thinking about it as a duty — companies who could be contributing to our national prosperity but choose not to because it might be too difficult or too time-consuming or because they can’t play golf on a Friday afternoon.”
Dr Fox could not be reached for comment.