Jeremy Hunt and Liam Fox have promised that they will make Britain a top trader without having to succumb to a customs union, according to their article published in The Sun.
Writing in The Sun, Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs since 2018, and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, pledged, that under their leadership, “Britain will never join a permanent customs union and instead seek to negotiate a comprehensive Canada-style free trade deal. This means Britain will enjoy a fully independent trade policy to compete with the world’s biggest players.”
A candidate for the Tory leadership, Hunt was the “sensible Tory option”, as Polly Toynbee wrote, but perhaps, no longer, as he, following Boris, is now offering the hardest possible version of Brexit.
However, manufacturers and business leaders have described their pledges as “irresponsible,” showing “zero understanding” of the consequences. As Seamus Nevin, the chief economist at the trade organisation Make UK, said: “Given this outlook, increasing competition to see who can race to the bottom and act tough on ‘no deal’ is the height of irresponsibility with zero understanding of the consequences.” Nevin added: “Businesses are cutting back on both day-to-day and capital spending with the contraction in output a reflection of growing Brexit uncertainty and, worsening global trade winds. Looking ahead the picture shows little sign of improvement with signs of weakness now spreading across the eurozone.”
In an optimistic and quite naïve manner, Hunt and Fox praised the UK’s productivity and said that “It is simply not good enough for a country as productive as ours to hand over its trade policy to the European Union. We intend to leave the EU with optimism and confidence. Britain can walk tall in the world with the lowest corporation taxes to attract business, a £15billion boost for our armed forces and a competitive free trade policy.”
Having no concerns of the ensuing consequences, they both write how important is to deal with Brexit fast: “we must wrap up Brexit as quickly as possible. It’s an urgent priority and that will be our unrelenting focus until it is done.” For them, Brexit is not a problem but “the most amazing opportunity for our country.”
Business Leaders Disagree
No matter how Johnson or Hunt choose to sell Brexit, business leaders disagree. Make UK said businesses experienced loss or decline in export contracts, while confidence in UK suppliers was down because of Brexit.
The British Chambers of Commerce reported weak domestic manufacturing orders and the Confederation of British Industry said that private-sector activity fell considerably in the April-June period.
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