And he warned that unless Britain woke up to the importance of trade with the rest of Europe, it would 'cease to be able to afford the welfare that we would prefer to offer our children, our pensioners and our sick people'.
He claimed that Britain preferred to devote resources to 'more friendly uses', such as nurses' pay or environmental projects.
South African-born Mr Morton was giving the Brunel lecture at the Institution of Mining Electrical and Mining Mechanical Engineers in Nottingham. He used the occasion to give vent to years of frustration at the hands of Whitehall in his efforts to complete the pounds 10bn Channel tunnel.
'Why do people object to big projects?' he asked. He said he was sure that part of the answer was 'the overcrowded nature' of a large part of the British Isles.
'Is that why the British people back into the future, grumbling and resenting the need to change? Is that why they look back to the happier days in the past when there was so much less traffic, largely because there was so much less need to move a better choice of goods longer distances to market?'
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