Iain Duncan Smith undermines No 10 effort to get business back onside

Written by David Singleton on 18 December 2017 in Diary

He told British businesses they will have to ‘learn to get by’ after Brexit.

Before David Cameron called a referendum on whether the UK should remain in the European Union, the Conservative party always had a strong claim to be 'the party of business'.

Since then, the Tories have found themselves in the unusual position of being attacked by the CBI and a host of leading business figures over Brexit. International trade secretary Liam Fox also  sparked fury last year by suggesting businesses were "too lazy and too fat", with many bosses choosing to spend time on the golf course rather than at work.

And now Iain Duncan Smith has made provocative comments that are expected to further alienate business leaders.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, the former Tory leader told firms to stop complaining and embrace the post-Brexit economic landscape

"I don't buy this idea of a fixed position in the world, it's not the case of less trade, it's a case of a different type of trade and British business will have to learn, as they do, to get by in a different world," he said.

Duncan Smith added that his "general view" was that "on balance we should be able to make the maximum benefit".

The clumsy comments come as Downing Street has spent recent months searching for a ‘big hitter’ to rebuild relations with the business community, after Theresa May lost her government relations director Chris Brannigan and her policy chief John Godfrey earlier this year.

According to Number 10 insiders, the person at the top of the shortlist is Business Services Association chief executive Mark Fox. One source suggested that Downing Street was finally closing in on their man, with Fox set to be appointed as director external relations before Christmas. Meanwhile a Number 10 spokesperson had no comment when asked if Fox was being hired.

Watch this space…




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