The rush by the Europhobic part of the press - for which, read most of it - to proclaim the wonders of life outside the EU, although that state is some years away, if it ever arrives at all, has once again led a number of clueless hacks, and editors who should know better, to follow disgraced former Defence Secretary Liam Fox as he demonstrates once again that he has little idea what on earth he is talking about.
It's high time it was Goodnight From Them
Fox will make a speech to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) this week. It is being enthusiastically trailed by the most vocal Brexit cheerleaders, and especially by the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, which has eagerly told “Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary, will put Britain firmly on the path to withdrawing from the European Union’s single market in a dramatic speech this week”.
Do go on. “He will make a major speech to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Tuesday, signalling the UK’s determination to take its place as an independent member of the international body, able to negotiate its own trade deals outside the EU … Dr Fox is expected to signal his strong intent that once outside the EU, Britain will take up a fully independent place at the WTO”. This has been picked up by other media outlets.
Typical is City AM, where readers are told “The government's stance on Brexit appears to be hardening, with international trade secretary Liam Fox set to advocate that the UK pushes ahead and becomes an independent member of the World Trade Organisation … Fox is set to make a major speech to the WTO tomorrow, signalling that he intends the UK to become an independent member of the organisation”.
Also drinking from this particular bottle of Kool-Aid is the Express, aka the Daily UKIP, which has asserted “We don't NEED EU single market: Liam Fox to reclaim UK's seat at World Trade Organisation … LIAM FOX will this week set out his vision for Britain’s future as a leading free trade nation in a bid to reclaim the UK’s seat at the World Trade Organisation”. So that’s three papers that have failed to do their research.
Also failing to do his homework has been Europhobic Tory MP John Redwood, who has told “Britain is still technically a member of the WTO - we just volunteered to forgo it when we joined the EEC in 1973”. Shall we have a look at the WTO website to see what the actual status of Britain within the WTO is right now?
This is what the WTO has to say under the heading “The European Union and the WTO”: “The European Union … has been a WTO member since 1 January 1995. The 28 member States of the EU are also WTO members in their own right” [my emphasis]. Britain is already an independent member of the WTO. There is no seat to reclaim. It is not a technicality. And if Fox thinks that, he’s an even bigger clown then previously thought.
As for the press … try doing some research before churning over the PR, folks.