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Former Treasury minister launches into 'clueless' Brexiteers and 'ludicrous' Boris Johnson

Former Treasury minister launches into 'clueless' Brexiteers and 'ludicrous' Boris Johnson

John Ashmore

2 min read

A former Treasury minister has torn into Theresa May's top team, calling her Cabinet colleagues "clueless" about economics and branding Boris Johnson "ludicrous".

Lord O'Neill, who served in government when George Osborne was Chancellor, said it was "mad" for ministers such as Liam Fox to focus future trade efforts on countries such as New Zealand, which will offer only a minimal boost to UK exports.

The former Goldman Sachs banker, who famously coined the term 'BRIC' to describe the emerging global economies, also criticised the Prime Minister for not focusing enough on the crucial Chinese market. 

"Within a week of the [EU] referendum the Chinese approached us about a free trade agreement," he told German newspaper Die Welt.

"Under Cameron and Osborne they would have had that discussion 15 months ago."

But he reserved his strongest criticism for pro-Brexit ministers such as Mr Johnson and Liam Fox, saying: "[They are] very intellectual, smart people. But they have no clue about the world economy. They are clueless, sadly. Clueless."

And he tore into what he claimed was an over-emphasis on trade ties with former Commonwealth countries, saying: "It’s kind of fantasy. This year, China is going to grow by 6.7%. In nominal GDP-dollar terms, China will create a new Australia this year. It will create four New Zealands this year.

"And Liam Fox and our ludicrous foreign minister spend half of their life going to New Zealand. It’s mad."

Dr Fox is currently on a visit to China, where he will meet government officials and business leaders.

A spokesman for the Department for International Trade said: “The International Trade Secretary is visiting China, our fifth largest trade partner, this week as we look beyond the boundaries of Europe to build independent trading relationships with the rest of the world."

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