Look deep inside the mind of Dr Liam Fox and you'll see what Brexit looks like

At last, apparently, Britain can grasp its golden opportunity to trade with the world, that's if there's a single solitary product out there we're not already selling

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Indy Politics

“We’re selling coffee to Brazil, we’re selling boomerangs to Australia, we’re selling cheese to the Swiss, we’re selling naan bread to India, we’re selling fresh air to China, we’re selling pizza to Italy, we’re selling strudel to the Germans, we’re selling cigars to Cuba.”

Andrea Leadsom paused for breath.

“We’re selling pyramids to Egypt, we’re selling dykes to the Dutch, we’re selling dirty knickers to the Japanese, we’re selling yaks to the Mongols and nukes to North Korea.”

At some imperceptible point in the hour and a half that this went on for, it could not be ignored that Andrea Leadsom had been replaced on stage by Dr Liam Fox, but the list just rolled on.

“We’re selling cocaine to the Colombians, we’re selling brides to Thailand, we’re selling pyramids to Egypt, we’re selling turkey to Turkey, we’re selling Iran to Iraq, we’re selling ivory to the Ivory Coast. We’re selling mountains to Nepal, we’re selling floods to Bangladesh, we’re selling baguettes to the eskimos and ice to the French.

"We're selling TVs to deep freeze, we're selling David Bowie LPs. We're selling Trevor Francis tracksuits to Trevoe Francis, we're selling mush to Shepherd's Bush bush bush bush bush..."

It was all part of ‘golden opportunity’ day for ‘Global Britain', better known as day two of the Conservative party conference. This was the day, now was the time, that the British people would reassume their rightful role as the great trading nation of the world. Personally, I did have pause to wonder quite what, up to this point had been constraining a nation already selling ‘‘fresh air to China for £80 a bottle (that one is genuine, by the way). To listen to the pair of them there seemed to be not one solitary commodity being consumed anywhere on earth that had not been made in Britain, but that’s why you come to listen to the experts like Dr Liam Fox. He’s the kind of un-acronymed expert they like round here. Got two degrees, don’t you know. Both in medicine, but what-ho.

For those of us still wondering what on earth is going on in the country, it was faintly illuminating. Dr Fox is beyond ecstatic that Britain has taken back control over its trading arrangements, arrangements that have been ‘outsourced to the EU for 41 years.’ 

He carried on. “The global influence that we enjoy today is a product of our trading history,” he said. 'Trading' may be one word for it, but it was not the one that five ageing, castrated Kenyans from the Mau Mau uprising put in their prosecution case at the High Court three years ago. They plumped for 'torture' and they've got a £19.5m compensation payout on their side, but it's only semantics.

On that subject, it is also worth noting that, in a pre-roll propaganda tape, Andrea Leadsom said her political hero was William Wilberforce, for his incredible achievements in bringing about the abolition of slavery. ‘And all from the backbenches,’ she said. A strange idol, one might think, for a woman who sought to be Prime Minister around a fortnight after anyone found out who she was. By way of contrast with her hero, her own proudest achievement, she said, had been ‘passing my eleven plus.’

Back to Liam Fox. “This small island nation sitting at the top of northern Europe became the world’s most powerful trading nation,” he boomed. “Every two and a half seconds, a plane lands somewhere in the world with British Rolls Royce engines.” It seems wearisome to again point out that listing current British business triumphs as justification for seismic change is rather like reading out a delicious restaurant menu in order to convince your fellow diners to go somewhere else. But hey, that’s 2016.

Fox wasn’t done with the ‘fat and lazy’ businesses of the UK, by the way, who two weeks ago we learned 'were too busy on the golf course' to bother to export anything. ‘Only eleven per cent of British businesses export anything at all,’ he said. A disgrace, and one hopes the caterers, the piano teachers, and the high street coffee shops of the country felt duly ashamed of themselves.

Still, the task ahead is clear enough: to rebalance the British economy to fit with Dr Liam Fox’s private fetishes, and if that doesn’t make you want to stick around for a blue passport, then what will?