Scottish Daily Mail
Crisis-ridden EU on brink of imploding, blasts minister
LIAM Fox has launched a savage assault on the European Union, saying its catastrophic economic policies have taken it to the brink of ‘imploding’.
The International Trade Secretary said Europe was engulfed in a migrant crisis, a French economic crisis and a ‘potential’ Italian banking crisis – and that the euro had left a generation of young people out of work.
Without Britain, he said, Germany could end up paying for the rest of the continent, becoming what he called the ‘greatest ATM in global history’.
His dire assessment came in an interview with The Spectator magazine. It comes as ministers draw up plans for how to approach Brexit trade talks which could begin as early as next year – and suggests his strong preference for looking to the rest of the world for trade deals, which he would negotiate.
Other ministers, such as Chancellor Philip Hammond, are thought to argue privately for closer ties to Europe’s single market when we leave, in what is known as a ‘soft’ Brexit.
On the EU, Dr Fox said: ‘The architec ‘always ture is beginning to peel away. It’s going to sacrifice at least one generation of young Europeans on the altar of the single currency, and you can only rip out the social fabric from so much of Europe before it starts imploding.
‘That’s the problem with the European Union. And with Britain out of it, they’ re still going to have to confront exactly the same problems.’
He added: ‘I guess Germany worries, because we were their main allies in bringing some economic rigour to the system.
‘If I were a German politician I would be worried that, without Britain, Germany has the potential to become the greatest ATM in global history.’
Britain could face economic ‘contagion’ if two Italian banks were to ‘go down’ in their debt crisis, he said. Italy’s banks are strug- gling to offload hundreds of billions of euros worth of toxic loans left over from the banking crisis.
Dr Fox also slapped down George Osborne’s suggestion that the activation of Article 50 – which begins the two-year process of leaving the EU – be delayed until after the German elections in September next year. ‘If you don’t want to leave, you can always find reasons not to do it,’ he said.
Dr Fox also argued against trade tariffs to protect British agriculture post-Brexit.
He said ‘protectionism never works in the long term’ and ends up disadvantaging the most vulnerable’.
He also defended comments he made earlier this month when he suggested British businesses had got ‘fat and lazy’ and too busy playing golf to go out and do deals to sell their products abroad. He said: ‘As a country, we have become too easy with the idea that the world owes us a living. The world doesn’t owe us a living. And we’ve just now got to probe all the areas where we could be making changes.’
Dr Fox also hailed the return of proper Cabinet government under Theresa May. David Cameron was criticised for running a ‘sofa government’ involving a small group of advisers and cutting out his ministers.
Dr Fox said decision making was more ‘methodical’ under Mrs May and she included the Cabinet and committees.
Tory grandee Ken Clarke says Mrs May does not have the ‘first idea’ what to do about Brexit.
Mr Clarke, who was a prominent supporter of Mrs May’s Tory leadership bid, said she was in charge of a ‘government with no policies’. He also savaged Mr Cameron for making the ‘catastrophic decision’ to hold an EU referendum in the first place.
The Europhile MP told the New Statesman magazine: ‘Nobody in the Government has the first idea of what they’re going to do next on the Brexit front.’
‘Rip out the social fabric’ ‘World doesn’t owe us a living’