Who is Liam Fox trying to fool? The British public – or himself?
Consider his recent words, reported by the Tory faithful at the BBC:
“Obsessive criticism” of Brexit must end, Liam Fox has said, urging opponents of the UK’s departure from the EU to “lift their horizons”.
Ahead of a visit to China, the international trade secretary said “attitudes needed to change” in 2018.
“Brexit is not a time bomb to be defused but a great opportunity to be embraced,” he told Conservative Home.
Healthy foreign investment and bulging export order books showed confidence in the UK, he added.
Bulging export order books? When the pound plummeted as a result of Brexit and Theresa May’s stupid speeches on the subject, UK businesses had a glowing opportunity to push for increased sales abroad; they didn’t bother.
They just increased prices on the sales they already make.
Instead of selling their products abroad more cheaply, which would have made our exports more desirable, meaning (hopefully) that more foreign clients would buy them, they actually made our products less desirable while extorting more money from clients who were already contracted to buy from them.
Meanwhile, the depreciation in the value of the Pound meant imports became more expensive, squeezing UK citizens’ ability to buy and fuelling the recent rises in inflation.
And Liam Fox himself has reportedly flown around the world no less than eight times, fruitless searching for opportunities to do the trade deals he so optimistically advocates.
According to the Daily Mirror:
The International Trade Secretary clocked up 219,000 air miles in just 18 months – jetting to 27 countries and every continent except Antarctica.
His travel bill is now estimated to have topped £100,000 – despite him being unlikely to be able to sign any official trade deals before 2021.
Between July and December 2016, he ran up a bill of £37,345 and in the first half of 2017 that increased to £52,198, new figures reveal. Figures for the last six months of 2017 were not readily available [at the time of publication].
Liberal Democrat Tim Farron had it right. Quoted in the same Mirror article, he accused Dr Fox of “jetsetting around the world and coming back with diddly squat”.
He added: “This would all be laughable if it weren’t so serious. Never has a man racked up so many air miles, boasted so much and delivered so little.”
The BBC article hilariously suggests that “the UK hopes to be able to negotiate its own trade agreements with countries such as China” after the date when Brexit is scheduled to happen on March 29, 2019. In fact it would be more accurate to say “the Tories are desperate to negotiate a single trade agreement”.
So we come to the issue of gaslighting.
For those who aren’t aware, “gaslighting” is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity.
In this instance, we can see that attempts to interest foreign countries in individual trade deals with the UK have proved fruitless and Liam Fox has been wasting public money on foreign junkets. But he is trying to make us doubt this accurate interpretation of the evidence by pointing at foreign investment and export deals that have nothing to do with Brexit or his failed attempts at post-Brexit agreements.
Either Dr Fox is trying to convince us of a lie, or he is trying to convince himself – in which case our trading future after the end of March 2019 is in the hands of a madman.
I know – who’d notice another lunatic involved in Brexit?
Whichever way you look at it, any claim that Brexit will lead to increased and better trade with other countries is – at the moment – nothing more than a lie.
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