LONDON, Sept. 10 (UPI) — U.K. Trade Secretary Liam Fox accused British business leaders of being lazy in their attempts to increase the countries exports.
According to Sky News, Fox railed against the state of U.K. business at a reception for activists of the conservative Tory party.
“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,” he said.
Fox went on to say free trade was a duty of the country and accused business leaders of betraying that duty to save themselves time and effort.
“We’ve got to change the culture in our country, we’ve got to stop thinking over exports as an opportunity, and start looking at it as a duty,” he said. “Companies who could be contributing to our national prosperity, but choose not to, because it might be too difficult, or too time consuming, that might not be able to play golf on a Friday afternoon.”
Fox, who supported the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, received criticism for his remarks. A Downing Street spokesman said expressed his own views and not those of the government.
According to the BBC, Richard Reed, co-founder of U.K. smoothie and juice company Innocent Drinks, said Fox “had never done a day’s business in his life.”
“He’s talking about business people here who were absolutely clear in saying that we want, and do, export, and that’s why we do want to remain in the EU… I just think, ‘How dare he talk down the country that he damaged, how dare he,'” Reed said. “He’s a terrible, terrible voice for British business.”
Labor Shadow Minister Jonathan Ashworth called Fox’s comments offensive and crass and called for him to apologize.
“He should apologize immediately for insulting Britain’s businessmen and women whose hard work in the national interest could teach him a thing or two,” Ashworth said. “Every MP knows of hard working businesses in their constituency who are struggling at the moment. None of them are lazy or more interested in playing golf.”