Belfast Telegraph

Defence minister praises firms after MP slams Liam Fox's remarks on businessmen

A Government minister has distanced herself from Liam Fox's attack on British business, as an MP insisted there are no "fat and lazy businessmen in Huddersfield".

Tory frontbencher Harriet Baldwin, a defence minister, opted to praise firms in the West Yorkshire town after being urged to disassociate herself from Mr Fox's remarks by Labour's Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield).

International Trade Secretary Mr Fox suggested the UK had lost its way as a trading nation and had grown "too fat" on the successes of previous generations.

In his unguarded comments at a reception for the Thatcherite Conservative Way Forward group, Mr Fox is reported by the Times to have said: " 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.

"What is the point of us reshaping global trade, what is the point of us going out and looking for new markets for the United Kingdom, if we don't have the exporters to fill those markets?"

Number 10 said Mr Fox was expressing "private views", although Mr Sheerman continued to urge the Government to publicly come out against them.

After he praised defence firms in his constituency, Mr Sheerman added to Ms Baldwin: " Would you disassociate yourself from the 'fat and lazy' term used about British businessman?

"We have no fat and lazy businessmen in Huddersfield."

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Baldwin replied: "Those are certainly not my words and I would like to pay tribute to the many businesses in Huddersfield and around South Yorkshire which do such wonderful work in terms of supplying our Ministry of Defence."