Liam Fox mocked after new Board of Trade only has him as a member
Liam Fox has been mocked after setting up a new Board of Trade - and making himself the only member.
A press release announcing the new body was issued by the Department for International Trade this morning.
It said membership of the board is restricted to Privy Councillors so Dr Fox is the only member, as well as the president.
However, the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as senior business figures, will be advisers.
Labour's Seema Malhotra told PoliticsHome: "Liam Fox has clocked up over 70,000 air miles in search of a post-Brexit trade deal and he's come back without a single firm commitment. Fine idea, but unfortunately looks like a plan to keep Liam Fox busy if it's a Board with only himself as a member. It’s just another example of how this Government are incompetent."
Tom Brake, the Lib Dem International Trade spokesman, said: "Talk about a job creation scheme. The Secretary of State, no doubt embarrassed by his lack of a real role in government beyond accumulating millions of air miles, has had to invent a grandiose title for himself. It will convince nobody.
"The signing of the first trade deals are years away, whereas the damage to our existing largest trade deal, with the EU, is happening now."
James McGrory, the executive director of the pro-EU group Open Britain, said: "I hope that at the inaugural meeting of the new Board of Trade, Liam Fox managed to have positive and constructive discussions with Liam Fox – after hearing expert analysis by Dr Liam Fox on the impact of Brexit.
“Britain’s trade policy is just the sound of one hand clapping. It would be funny in another context, but not when the Government is justifying its decision to damage our trade by leaving the Customs Union on a mirage of future trade deals."
Mr McGrory added: “In the hostile world of international trade negotiations, Liam Fox’s army of one will find striking trade deals difficult and time-consuming and they will constantly be under pressure to water down our food safety and environmental standards.
“The Prime Minister needs to drop her charade, tell Liam Fox to do his solo negotiations somewhere else, and reverse her damaging decision to put trade with our biggest economic partner at risk by leaving the Customs Union.”
But Dr Fox said: "There is a world of opportunity out there for UK businesses and the Board of Trade will help identify and unlock new export markets and encourage further inward investment."
An International Trade spokesperson said: “We’ve been clear the Board of Trade needs to act as the eyes and ears of modern businesses. That is why we are drawing on prominent figures from business and politics across the country and not just restricting to Privy Councillors, as happened in the past.”