Downing Street has leapt forward to disown his comments, saying he was clearly expressing his own personal opinion when he said businesspeople prefer “golf on a Friday afternoon” to boosting the nation’s prosperity.
It seems clear this former Tory leadership contender is heading for another ignominious exit from the cabinet.
How is he supposed to command respect in securing trade deals with foreign countries, after trashing the reputation of British business so comprehensively?
Would it surprise you to know that Dr Fox (yes, he’s a former GP) has ‘form’ when it comes to outrageous attacks on British people?
In March 2013, two years after having to resign as Defence Secretary because he kept taking his friend Adam Werrity on taxpayer-funded junkets and inviting him into meetings for which he didn’t have security clearance (more on this later), Dr Fox called for a five-year freeze on public spending.
This would have meant ring-fenced departmental budgets – the NHS, international development, and schools – would lose their protection, as would universal benefits such as pensioners’ winter fuel allowances.
He wanted to spend the money on tax cuts for the richest.
In 2014, Dr Fox, whose known financial interests include receiving £5,000 to run his private office in October 2012 from investment company IPGL Ltd, owner of healthcare pharma company Cyprotex, attacked the NHS again.
He demanded that NHS funding should not be ring-fenced after the 2015 general election, saying its performance does not justify the favour.
Let us not forget that Dr Fox himself is an expenses cheat who has overspent taxpayers’ money on himself and his friends.
In 2009 it was reported that he had claimed £19,000 on expenses for his mobile phone bill over the previous four years. He said he was looking for a cheaper tariff.
He overclaimed £22,476 in mortgage interest payments, which he was forced to pay back in 2010. Fox said he had decided to remortgage his second home to pay for redecorations, and claim the higher interest repayments on his expenses because this represented value for money – he could have charged the taxpayer for his decorating bill directly. This was not true, according to the judge dealing with the case.
A study of Parliamentary records in the Daily Telegraph showed that he was receiving rental income from his London home while simultaneously claiming rental income from the taxpayer to live at another residence.
And then there’s the big one, for which he lost his job: Fox’s relationship with Adam Werrity, who had lived rent-free in Fox’s flat, had accompanied Fox on 40 of his 70 official engagements, attended meetings with foreign dignitaries and had used official-looking business cards which stated his was an “advisor” to Fox.
Fox resigned in advance of publication of an official inquiry’s report into the matter, meaning we still don’t know the full facts.
Britain is “too lazy and too fat” with businessmen preferring “golf on a Friday afternoon” to trying to boost the country’s prosperity, Liam Fox has said.
The international trade secretary’s remarks, at a Conservative Way Forward event, were recorded by the Times.
Downing Street said he was clearly expressing private views.
Richard Reed, Innocent Drinks co-founder, said Mr Fox “had never done a day’s business in his life”.
Mr Fox, who was a prominent voice within the Leave campaign in the EU referendum, is in charge of negotiating trade deals for the UK once it has left the European Union.
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