Liam Fox’s dangerous vision for post-Brexit Britain

Liam Fox

HAVING managed to escape the confines of Chevening, the 115-room mansion he begrudgingly shares with fellow Tories Boris Johnson and David Davis, arch Brexit-backer Liam Fox has revealed something of a skeleton schedule for Britain’s as yet unrealised divorce from the EU.

The newly minted international trade secretary, reanimated after five years in the political cryo chamber, said, during a whistle-stop three-day tour of the US, that he expects the Brexit dust to be settled by 2020 and that the UK will, in all probability, not form a customs union with its soon-to-be ex.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the avid Atlanticist, who was the least popular candidate in last month’s Conservative leadership race, also suggested that Article 50 will not be invoked until early 2017, echoing Theresa May’s hesitance at immediately unleashing negotiations.

For those rabid Brexiteers wondering why the delay, and suspicious that Westminster may yet find a way to subvert the referendum results, Fox spelled out that the UK is hoping to garner some measure of its post-EU economic alliances before pressing the button on Article 50.

EU rules prevent the UK from negotiating substantial trade treaties with other nations until the country has left the union, while potential partners such as the US, Canada, and Australia are waiting to see the precise nature of Britain’s relationship with the EU before making commitments.

“The first thing is to dispel the idea that Britain leaving the European Union was somehow an anti-free market decision,” Fox said as he put forth his post-Brexit vision.  “In fact it was the reverse: in my view, it was about Britain becoming a much more outward-looking country.”

Fox’s Atlantic adventure is specifically aimed at projecting economic confidence and reassuring American investors that the UK is open for business, flexible and willing to sacrifice protectionism in favour of a neo-liberal model boasting a shrunken public sector and lax regulations.

The US has been pushing both the UK and EU towards accepting a proposed free-trade agreement known as TTIP, which, although temporarily scuppered by vehement opposition in France and across the continent, would presumably form the bedrock of any UK-US trade deal.

TTIP would demand the elimination of all trade tariffs and regulatory barriers to the free flow of big business, with unhelpful hurdles such as environmental, health or banking regulations being made subservient to the whims and financial appetite of American and European corporations.

It would also significantly undercut the last vestiges of sovereign power, spuriously revered by Fox and his allies, by insisting that the government open up the NHS and other public institutions to American companies, who could even sue the UK in international courts if policies affect their profits.  

This may seem a strange and contradictory stance for a British minister to support but Liam Fox has a chequered and controversial history as a governmental middleman coupling various businessmen, lobbyists and neoconservative strategists together under an Atlanticist agenda.

 In 1997 he founded the Atlantic Bridge Research and Education Scheme, which had Margaret Thatcher as its honorary president and other Tory luminaries, including Michael Gove and George Osborne, on its advisory panel, joined by an assortment of American politicians and lobbyists.

Although officially a charity, The Atlantic Bridge was found to be chiefly composed of lawyers, lobbyists and other corporate vultures working on behalf of the weapons, oil, pharmaceutical and gambling industries, and it collapsed under the weight of public scrutiny and tabloid scandal in 2011.  

At the time Fox was described as a “spider at the heart of a tangled neocon web” by Lord Oakeshot, who accused his project of abusing its charity status to siphon off taxpayer funds in order to promote a corporatist agenda with NHS liberalisation and energy deregulation as its key objectives.

Although Theresa May is portrayed as an ardent pragmatist with the character to secure a relatively fair and painless exit from the EU, British citizens would do well to beware the covert machinations of her colleague Dr Fox, a proven ideologue with a dangerous conviction in his ideas.

Unless we want to effectively replace the EU framework with an Atlanticist free-trade agreement along the lines of TTIP, with all of the anti-democratic and political subservience to market supremacy that entails, then it is essential that a close eye is kept on Liam Fox and his foreign adventures. 

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    • naimah yianni

      26 July 2016 • 18:43

      I dont think for a minute it would be as bad as the TTIP, which has hopefully now sunk in the water and will never been signed. The TTIP is the biggest threat to health and freedom imagineable. Forget ISIS they´re a bunch of pussies

    • Drew Edgar

      26 July 2016 • 23:07

      No chance whatsoever of that happening if Trump is elected US President, crooked Hillary on the other hand …..

    • Peter

      27 July 2016 • 06:47

      What amazed me with those who voted OUT is that they were oblivious to these kinds of drawbacks. I always said, it is not the EU who gives UK citizens a raw deal, but it is our own rulers. When I asked one Brexiteer why she voted out she said, Have you not seen the state of our roads, they are falling a part everywhere. It is incredible what the Brexiteers blamed the EU for such as that. They were sold a lie and believed it.

    • kay peukert

      28 July 2016 • 09:38

      Lets pray it doesn’t happen
      UK health service is non existent as it is and having the same sort of situation as the states would definitely be a disaster – depending on who you insure with as to what cover you get

    • Peter

      28 July 2016 • 16:41

      I’ve just read that the UK has the least number of Doctors per head of population in the developed world. Some will blame the EU for that and not where the blame really resides – with our own UK Governments.

    • Mike in ESP

      31 July 2016 • 22:44

      NHS expenditure is basically a national government issue, NHS needs more money!

      There are some things people just don’t seem to understand and that is the NHS, education, military, policing and welfare all want and in some if not many cases need more money but there is a big problem and that is that national debt is running at £1.8 Trillion and no sign of being able to get it under control… George Osborn couldn’t do it and used Brexit as the excuse for his final failure when in reality he hasn’t actually met any of his own targets set by himself… Labour created a lot of debt but the Conservatives even more! We need more money to do what people expect, there are different options:

      1. Tax the rich more! But the rich cannot be taxed any more as that would probably be counter productive, send the wealthy abroad, Hamilton for example is a resident of Monaco to keep his tax obligations down.

      2. Tax the working classes more! Hummm….. they are taxed enough as it is.

      3. Cut back on what the NHS offer! This would be a start, the NHS was put in place to provide health care to everyone that needs health care and not to provide breast implants, sex changes etc.

      4. Cut back on welfare, GO tried that and did a U turn because of public outcry.

      So there are our options, we need to decide which is more important because money doesn’t grow on trees! My suggestions would basically be 3. and 4. along with cutting back on foreign aid.

    • Peter

      01 August 2016 • 09:17

      I’m bemused because I keep coming across figures which shows the UK to be front when it comes to the Race to the Bottom. I had been made aware from a number of sources that our baby deaths were not only the highest in the developed world, but even worse that in some 3rd world countries. Recently, it was said in the current Government dispute with the NHS Doctors that the UK has the least number of Doctors per head of population in the developed world. Wonder where we will win next. When discussing these anomalies with an erudite friend it was pointed out to me that with Child Poverty we were not the worst, for we had come second from last, with the USA beating us to be the worst in the developed world. Perhaps we can strive to beat the US in this in the near future. Can we blame the EU for these outcomes? We should perhaps put some one like Bernie Ecclestone in charge so we can begin winning the other way round – as we do in F1 – instead of the Phillip Green style of running our country as if it was a BHS.
      We are one of the richest countries in he world, yet spend less proportionally on Health care, Education and Social Security etc etc than almost any other other developed country, so where does all the money go. Could it be, as I suspect, that GB Ltd is run like Phillip Green ran BHS.


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