British businesses have got ‘lazy’ in the EU, says Iain Duncan Smith

The former work and pensions secretary echoes comments by Dr Liam Fox

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Indy Politics

Iain Duncan Smith has hit out at “lazy” British businesses who hire employees from the European single market instead of training someone from the UK to do the job.

The former work and pensions secretary and Brexit campaigner told the International Business Times that EU freedom of movement had led to firms failing to invest in their workforce.

Mr Duncan Smith’s comments come weeks after newly appointed International Trade Secretary Liam Fox branded British business “fat and lazy”.

“Most of the EU influx is in low-skilled work, 80 per cent, and that’s where it’s done all the damage to people’s salaries and incomes at the bottom. It's also made British business rather lazy, just going out and hiring somebody from somewhere and not training them up,” the former Tory leader said.

“So there’s going to be a cultural shift for business, they are going to have to apply for work permits.”

Mr Duncan Smith caused controversy in 2010 when he made similar comments about unemployed people living in Merthyr Tydfil. He told them to “get on a bus” to find work.

Dr Fox had previously told supporters of the Conservative Way Forward group: “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.

The latest contribution from Mr Duncan Smith comes as Prime Minister Theresa May set out a new timetable for triggering Article 50. She said she do this before March 2017, heralding the start of formal Brexit negotiations.

Though Ms May has repeatedly said there will be controls on immigration from the EU she has yet to lay out details about what exactly this will entail. 

Whether British businesses will retain access to the single market is not entirely clear either, though the leaders of other EU countries have said immigration controls are not consistent with membership of the trading bloc.

Ms May will this morning set out further details about Brexit in a speech to the Tory conference in Birmingham. She will appear alongside Foreign Secretary Boris Johson, Brexit Secretary David Davis, and Dr Fox.