Trade Secretary Liam Fox says Britain needs to accept 'the world does not owe us a living'

Speaking to The Spectator, the MP for North Somerset elaborated on his earlier remarks that UK businesses are "growing fat and lazy" and are not ready for post-Brexit realities

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International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has called on British businesses to realise that the "world doesn’t owe us a living".

Dr Fox made the statement after controversially telling a meeting of Conservative MPs that UK businesses are "growing fat and lazy" and are ill-prepared to make international deals post-Brexit.

He also criticised those who condemned his earlier remarks, made in a speech to the Thatcherite campaign group Conservative Way Forward at the start of September, saying that if politicians are unable to make spontaneous comments, the press and public discourse "will be poorer for it".

Liam Fox - We have become too lazy and too fat.mp4

Speaking to The Spectator, Dr Fox 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."

One of three Eurosceptics heavily involved with Brexit, Dr Fox said exports were failing to realise their full potential.

He added: "Government, the financial sector, culture, all of them will have to play a part.

"Because one thing’s for sure, we can’t continue with the trajectory we’ve got now, falling behind with exports as a proportion of our GDP."

The former Defence Secretary had told Conservative Way Forward: "We have become too lazy, and too fat on our successes in previous generations.

"And when I look at a country built on free trade, as an outward-looking, forward-looking nation, and I look today at the proportion of British businesses that export beyond our border – what is it? 80 per cent? 60 per cent? 11 per cent."

In response to the controversy, No 10  pushed for a more "positive response" to helping business leaders overcome trade obstacles.

A spokesperson said: "This Government is clear that there are opportunities ahead.

"We should be approaching that in a positive manner and seizing them."