Liam Fox claims British business people are too "fat and lazy"

Downing Street has distanced itself from the comments

Liam Fox,

Image: Steve Parsons / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Liam Fox, a prominent voice in the Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum and International Trade Secretary has stated that British business has become too "fat and lazy".   

In a series of remarks recorded by The Times, Fox stated that British business had not been working hard enough to succeed and that business people preferred to play golf on a Friday afternoon than get deals done.

"This country is not the free-trading nation it once was. We have become too lazy, and too fat on our successes in previous generations," said Fox. 

As the man who will be tasked with helping Britain to integrate with its trading partners in the wake of the Brexit referendum, Fox hinted that companies should see exporting as a duty rather than an opportunity, and may face penalties if they fail to comply with the demands placed on them. 

"Companies who could be contributing to our national prosperity - but choose not to because it might be too difficult or too time-consuming or because they can't play golf on a Friday afternoon - we've got to be saying to them if you want to share in the prosperity of our country you have a duty to contribute to the prosperity of our country."

Business leaders from around the United Kingdom have condemned Fox's comments, with founder of Innocent Drinks, Richard Reed, saying: "He’s a representative of this country and he turns around and slags us off, calls us fat and lazy. He’s never done a day’s business in his life."

"He’s a terrible, terrible voice for British business," added Reed.

Labour MP Chuka Umunna called on Fox to apologise for the remarks, while Conservative MP Nicholas Soames stated that he should "shut up" for the foreseeable future. 

Downing Street has stated that Fox was clearly expressing his own private views in the statements.