Atlantic Bridge – Dead Or Merely Undercover?

Foxs-Paunch

According to Liam Fox, Britain’s Minister for International Trade, “Britain is too lazy and too fat with businessmen preferring golf on a Friday afternoon to trying to boost the country’s prosperity…”

Judging from the belly hanging over that trouser belt, I guess it takes one to know one – as they say. Except, according to Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed, Fox has never done a day’s business in his life:

“”He is a representative of us, of this country, and he turns round and slags us off, calling us fat and lazy,” he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today. “He’s never done a day’s business in his life.”
“He’s talking about business people here who were absolutely clear in saying that we want, and do export, and that’s why we do want to remain in the EU… I just think: ‘how dare he talk down the country that he damaged, how dare he’.
“He’s a terrible, terrible voice for British business.”
Mr Reed added that he’d “never played golf in [his] life”. [1]

It would seem that Theresa May’s government is in some disarray following her appointments of Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, and David Davies (all ardent supporters of the Brexit campaign) to government departments: the Foreign Office (Johnson), and two that never existed before – ‘International Trade’ (Fox) and ‘Exiting the European Union’ (Davies).

Fox and Johnson are already at each other’s throats over a letter sent by Fox to Johnson demanding the Foreign Office hand over some of its responsibilities (economic diplomacy) to Fox’s International Trade Department. Prime Minister May’s had to step in and separate them.

Liam Fox has been hand-in-glove with corporate interests in the United States for many years. His involvement with the now (ostensibly) defunct ‘Atlantic Bridge’ “charity” caused his forced resignation from David Cameron’s government in 2011:

In a speech to Atlantic Bridge members in New York in November 2002, Fox warned “the natural desire to avoid conflict has been reinforced by an innate pacificism in many sections of western society, especially in continental Europe”. He told his audience: “For too many, peace has come to mean simply the absence of war. We cannot allow that corrosive view to go unchallenged.”

Fox also used the speech to criticise the NHS, which he said had “responded to a funding increase of almost 11% with only a 2% increase in activity”.

He was preaching to the converted. The Atlantic Bridge’s addresses and conferences were all about promoting market liberalisation. A typical theme of one conference, held in both Los Angeles and Pittsburgh in July 2006, was entitled “Killing the Golden Goose – How Regulation and Legislation are Damaging Wealth Creation”. An earlier address in 2003 asked: “How Much Health Care Can We Afford?”

Members of the Galen Institute, a thinktank which promotes “freemarket ideas in health”, attended its conferences while the failed bank Lehman Brothers, sponsored at least one event, as did the powerful neocon thinktank the Heritage Foundation.

But in 2007 the Atlantic Bridge’s relationship with big business entered a new realm, one that threatens to pose uncomfortable questions for Cameron and his party. The organisation signed a special partnership with the American Legislative Council (Alec), whose motto is “Limited government, free markets, federalism”. [2]

atlantic-bridge-fox

Liam Fox addressing members of Atlantic Bridge – 2011

Many other Tory powermongers were embroiled with ‘Atlantic Bridge’ (Margaret Thatcher was once its patron). As the Guardian article from 2011 continues:

Admittedly, senior Tory cabinet ministers had been scrambling to distance themselves from the Atlantic Bridge long before the scandal brought Fox down. The organisation’s website – and that of its sister charity across the Atlantic – has been dismantled. But old caches of the site reveal that, while [they were] shadow ministers, George Osborne [Brexit], Michael Gove [Brexit], Chris Grayling [Brexit] and William Hague [Eurosceptic, but U-turned in the home straight] were all on its advisory council alongside Fox, its UK chairman. All four stood down as awkward questions over its political activities, which contravened charity laws, resulted in the organisation being wound up. [my bold] [2]

One can only wonder why, given his past record, Theresa May allowed Liam Fox back into government. Unless, of course, she agrees with his views and is following a Thatcherite agenda.

It isn’t difficult to understand why Fox was so supportive of Brexit. He no doubt stands to be rewarded handsomely if he opens the door to American corporate interests in the U.K.. The National Health Service is a prime example. Its government man-in-charge, Jeremy Hunt, is just as keen on American privatization of the service as the U.S. insurance and medical services wolves slavering at the gate in anticipation of future financial killings within the U.K..

The British people might care to remember that in 1948 the Tory Party, then in opposition to a Labour government led by Clement Atlee, voted en masse against the establishment of the National Health Service. It’s taken nearly seventy years, but now they finally seem to be getting their way.

While ‘Atlantic Bridge’ is officially dead, ex-members are still busily working to fulfill its aims, both in Britain and the United States. U.K. and U.S. politics are tumbling headlong into the chasm of corporate power.

At this stage one can only wonder just how much worse it can all get.

[1] “Britain ‘too lazy and fat’, says Trade Secretary Liam Fox” BBC, September 10th 2016

[2] “Liam Fox’s Atlantic Bridge linked top Tories and Tea Party activists” Guardian, October 15th 2011

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