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UK Trade Secretary Calls British Businesses Too Lazy To Boost Exports

Liam FoxUK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has stirred up a storm after saying that British corporate executives are too lazy to work hard and improve the country’s export capabilities.

The controversial comments were made by Fox at a social function for Conservative activists in the Parliament and the UK government played it safe and labelled the outburst as the secretary’s private view.

Fox was highly critical of British corporate executives in his speech and said that business leaders did not consider improving exports as a national duty preferring to play golf on Friday afternoons rather than working hard.

In a statement, Liam Fox 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?

The comments were recorded by a journalist present in the meeting and released later. Opposition parties and business leaders criticized the remarks sharply calling them insulting. Jonathan Ashworth, a spokesman for the opposition Labour Party said that the comments were offensive and crass, and called it symptomatic of the ruling party’s chaotic approach.

Richard Reed, co-founder of smoothie maker Innocent Drinks called the remarks disgusting adding that it was appalling that a representative of British citizens was saying this.

Spokeswomen for Prime Minister Theresa May’s office have so far not commented on the issue.

The British current account-deficit at 6.9 percent of GDP is at record levels and the Brexit vote has resulted in the UK government deferring its target of achieving budget surplus status by 2020. The deficit has improved in the last few months as a result of the pound declining by over 11 percent against the dollar making exports more attractive. Bank of England governor Mark Carney has said earlier that a weak pound may lead to halving the deficit in three years.

The issue of UK’s trading fortunes was highly debated in the run up to the Brexit referendum. Those favouring the UK to remain within Europe had pointed out that the UK would be hit hard by losing Europe as a trading partner resulting in heavy damage to the economy. Those wanting the exit said that leaving Europe would prompt the country to look at more dynamic markets outside Europe and focus on building trading relationships with them.

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