12 October 2016
This week has seen further good news for Dr Liam Fox’s vision of a global Britain.
Since being appointed Secretary of State for a new Department for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox has worked hard to set out a bold, optimistic vision for an independent United Kingdom finding its place in the world. He has emphasised the importance of commerce, and he has called for British businesses to do more to reach out and engage in exchange across the globe.
Recent news must have strengthened his resolve, with key figures in Australia such as trade minister Steven Ciobo and ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott calling for expansive free trade with the UK upon EU exit. This week two new stories emerged of further opportunities for the UK – one, in the major growth economy of China, and the other with our familiar neighbours in Norway.
Dr Fox’s trade ambitions were given a major boost this week when China’s ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming told attendees at a HSBC forum on China that businessmen from his country were not disappointed by the result of June’s referendum, and that British withdrawal from the European Union would open up major new opportunities for an independent United Kingdom to deepen cooperation with China.
One of the few major achievements of the Cameron administration was the strengthening of ties between the United Kingdom and China – one of the biggest growth economies at the outset of what has been dubbed the Asian Century. Mr Cameron hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping on a state visit in October of last year, the first such visit for a Chinese President in a decade.
China currently enjoys the second largest economy on the planet, having increased tenfold since the dawn of the millennium, and it regularly achieves an annual growth rate of between six and eight percent. As a rapidly developing economy with a huge population and an expanding middle class ready to buy British goods, a more intimate trade and investment relationship with the eastern powerhouse would be a coup for the global ambitions of Dr Fox.
In addition to diplomatic optimism, the ties between the two countries have already been strengthened by a new deal to facilitate expanded air travel between the two countries. The move will allow flights to run between a great number of destinations within the two countries, expanding the number of passenger flights to 100 a week and facilitating unlimited cargo shipment.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling hailed the deal as “a big moment for the UK” adding that “strong connections with emerging markets like China are vital for us if we are to continue competing on the global economic stage”. Mr Grayling joined Dr Fox in campaigning for withdrawal from the European Union, and clearly shares his wise vision for the global future of the nation.
Yesterday those who supported continued British membership of the failing European Union jumped all over a strange news report out of Norway, alleging that the Norwegian industry minister Monica Mæland had rejected calls from Dr Fox to establish a trade committee to hash out the details for an agreement between Norway and an independent United Kingdom. The shrinking group of obsessive EU supporters who continue to wish ill on the British economy were left embarrassed after both Downing Street and the Norwegian Ministry of Industry denied the claims, confirming that no such talks had taken place and that Norway was indeed interested in maintaining dialogue with the UK to facilitate continued trade.
The Norwegian Embassy in London is clear that Britain is “Norway’s most important trading partner”, stressing that the UK buys a quarter of all Norwegian exports. Norway sells huge quantities of energy and fish to the United Kingdom – including 35 percent of its petroleum – and is also a significant market for UK goods including motor cars. The trade relations between the two countries are so significant that the false report that the Norwegian government was resisting trade talks with the UK sparked immediate outrage in opposition parties in Norway, with the leader of the Centre Party Trygve Slagsvold Vedum blasting the Norwegian government for what would clearly have been an incomprehensible move.
Out of Europe and into the world
It says a great deal about the selective interest in world affairs of the self-professed “internationalists” among the anti-Brexit brigade that they thought such reports were plausible and reported them uncritically with such glee. Britain is a country loved the world over, and Britain already has links and relationships around the planet – not only in the European Union. The great opportunity of Brexit is to free ourselves of the EU’s shackles and deepen those ties to the mutual benefit of our partners and ourselves. Dr Liam Fox’s optimistic vision of the future gets clearer every day and it keeps looking better and better.