Upbeat Dr Fox’s lot were as breezy as Aberdovey beach
OUr text for the day is St Luke’s Gospel, chapter XV, verse vii: ‘Joy shall be in heaven over one remoaner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine Leave persons, which need no repentance.’
Theresa May did not quite manage it in her LBC interview on Tuesday when she swerved a hypothetical question about how she would vote again in an EU referendum. But International Trade minister Mark Garnier made up for that in the Commons yesterday.
Mr Garnier did a magnificent grovel – a loop-the-loop of reverse ferrets – about how he got it wrong as a remain supporter last year.
It came during morning questions, when Mr Garnier and his boss Liam Fox and colleague Greg Hands were being quizzed about international trade preparations post-Brexit. at this point, had they been Treasury ministers toiling under that Dickensian handwringer Philip Hammond, the three men would have shrivelled, shrunk into the shadows, wrung their hands and wailed that it was all terribly ‘complex’.
Not so the International Trade lot under Dr Fox. They are commendably upbeat, as breezy as an afternoon on aberdovey beach.
Should Monty Python ever remake The Life of Brian, Messrs Fox, Garnier and Hands would be well-placed to play the chaps on crosses singing always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.
The House was discussing the car industry. Chris Williamson (Lab, Derby N), a cadaverous misery, droned that workers in Derbyshire might lose their jobs if Toyota relocated owing to ‘ the Government’s botched Brexit negotiations’.
Nothing like expressing a vote of confidence in your local employers, is there, Williamson?
Mr Garnier was markedly more chipper. He praised Toyota for its £240million investment in a factory at Burnaston, noted that the Government had supported that with £12.5million, and pointed out that the EU exports twice as many cars to us as we currently export to the EU.
In other words, Brussels would be mad to play silly beggars.
‘We have a great opportunity,’ agreed Mr Garnier, after Labour Eurosceptic Kelvin Hopkins (Luton N), reported that Nissan hopes to expand its production in Britain by 20 per cent.
‘What we have to offer is fantastic,’ tooted Mr Garnier, ‘and I am an unashamed patriot when it comes to our great exports.
‘It is the duty of everyone in the house to support all those busi- nesses.’ Talking about foreign direct investment, Mr Garnier shook out his lustrous grey locks and said ‘we have seen some truly amazing numbers coming in, a record number of inward investment projects; 158,000 jobs have been created and a further 66,000 safeguarded by foreign direct investment.’
Barry Sheerman (Lab) still moaned about ‘ the folly of Brexit’ and said he had not met a single businessman in Huddersfield or Leeds – not a single one! – who did not want to remain in the EU.
Mr Garnier: ‘I was a remainer, but we have to uphold the fundamental principle of democracy and it is the job of all of us in Government to do our level best to embrace the opportunities.’
Has he ever met Philip Hammond? By now Mr Garnier was rhapsodising about ‘ fantastic’ Scotch whisky, beer and other hot and cold British beverages, as we railway travelling-buffet operatives like to say.
a brief intervention from Sir Vince Cable, not-so-gay leader of the Illiberal Democrats, barely registered on Mr Garnier bounceometer. and then Stephen Crabb (Con, Preseli) mentioned Israel, and Mr Garnier achieved near liftoff about our mercantile prospects.
‘Doom-mongers like me who during the referendum were part of the Project Fear campaign have been proved wrong,’ he ululated. ‘It is important that we stand up and say that we did not get this right. and that is incredibly good news for both Britain and our individual constituencies!!!’
Cheers rang forth as this champion rooter, this beacon of zeal, resumed his seat.
as he did so, Dr Fox leaned into his ear and (bringing us to St Luke) murmured: ‘We always welcome repentant sinners.’