Liam Fox has extremely low credibility, says Unipart boss | Business News
International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has “extremely low credibility” and does not understand the dangers of a “no deal” Brexit, according to one of Britain’s leading businessman .
John Neill, the group chairman and chief executive of Unipart, said Mr Fox had spoken of Britain creating a new series of free trade agreements but “not been able to find any evidence” to back up his claims.
He also said that if Britain were to leave the European Union without a deal, the resulting disruption could cause a “cascade of failure” in the supply chain, ultimately raising a question over the viability of Britain’s entire car industry.
Mr Neill has run Unipart for more than 40 years, overseeing its transformation from providing parts to British Leyland to its present-day status as a multinational giant involved in manufacturing, consultancy and supply chains.
He was one of the British business leaders who attended a lunch in Davos on Thursday, at which the Chancellor Philip Hammond, asked for their support in delivering a Brexit deal.
Mr Fox was also there, along with the Business Secretary Greg Clark.
Mr Neill told Sky News that “I trust the chancellor to do the best deal he can in the circumstances” but, in a reference to Mr Fox, added that he was “very concerned that people who are saying that a no deal Brexit is a viable option have not taken the time to understand the way that would affect the economy, and how it would hurt people’s jobs”.
He said that most of Britain’s business leaders “knew exactly” what the chancellor would say, but “respected his position”.
But when asked about Mr Fox, the reply was scathing. “Liam Fox’s credibility is extremely low,” he said.
Mr Fox was in Davos to hold a series of meetings with business executives and politicians.
Earlier in the week, he told Sky News that moves to extend negotiations beyond 29 March were an attempt “to thwart Brexit altogether”.
He said that would be worse than a no deal Brexit, a comment that frustrated many in Davos.
“Every European business leader I speak to is dismayed by the position we have put ourselves in,” said Mr Neill.
He claimed that a no deal Brexit would wreck the supply chains that support Britain’s car industry, raising the question of “which manufacturers would actually want to stay in the UK”.
One of Britain’s senior bankers told Sky News he was presently considering whether to move more than £100bn of assets out of the UK.
When asked what he would do if he had to make the decision now, his immediate response was “I’d move them – I’d have no choice because of the uncertainty and chance of a no-deal Brexit”.
Mike Rake, the former chairman of BT, KPMG, easyJet and the CBI, responded to news of Mr Neill’s criticism by saying the prospect of a no deal Brexit was “verging on criminal irresponsibility”.