Liam Fox comment: Destroying the union won’t help firms prosper

Since it was set up, DIT has worked tirelessly to promote Scottish exports, says Fox. Picture: Crown Copyright
Since it was set up, DIT has worked tirelessly to promote Scottish exports, says Fox. Picture: Crown Copyright
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A visit to Glasgow always has a special resonance for me. It is the city where I went to ­university. It is where, in Glasgow University Union, I cut my political teeth in its famous debating chamber. And it is the city where, at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, I spent my early years as a junior doctor.

So, as International Trade Secretary, responsible for exports and investment across the whole UK, it is fitting that I am heading back there to meet with Scottish businesspeople and companies who are setting the pace as the whole UK forges a new role for itself in the world.

One of those firms is Aggreko, a global provider of temporary power generation equipment. Aggreko provided power for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and when the Board of Trade met in ­Stirling last year, I recognised their innovative approach to entering international markets with a Board of Trade Award.

Next month in Aberdeen, the Energy Exports Conference will back similar firms wanting to export their products, services and expertise into global markets.

Scotland is full of amazing stories; of amazing businesses doing amazing things. Take Edinburgh-based Ecometrica – it is using information harvested from space to help tackle global challenges like deforestation and climate change, and it is doing so in way that is changing how data is used around the world.

The UK space industry exports globally, supporting more than 40,000 jobs at home, with nearly a fifth of these based in Scotland. That’s why the Department for International Trade (DIT) is standing squarely behind it.

Since it was set up nearly three years ago, DIT has worked tirelessly to ­promote ­Scottish exports, to help firms achieve their full potential. If you want to export, we’ll show you how to export, we’ll show you where you can export to today, and we’ll break open new markets to export to tomorrow. We’ll put you in ­contact with people like you who are already exporting. We’ll put our ­money where our mouth is, and back you with finance.

Because trade is not just an arbitrary word, it doesn’t just mean a financial ­transaction. It means jobs where you live and money in your pocket. It means choice in everything, from what to buy in the supermarket to what kind of life you want your family to live.

This work that DIT is doing is also one of the best examples of how Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland are stronger together, each supporting the other to reach its potential.

The UnitedKingdom is the most successful union of nations this world has ever seen. There are few things that I feel more passionately about. Our union has also never been more important. The global headwinds are getting stronger and we potentially face an international economic slowdown. The experts, ­officials and ministers at my department stand ready to ensure that Scottish exporters and Scotland’s economy have the help needed to face down the challenges and grasp ­opportunities to come.

But it’s clear that there are forces that want to undermine the integrity of the UK and destroy the union that has delivered so much, over so many years to so many people. They will use any threats, real or imaginary, to ­further their cause.

So, as we now look to set our future course as a country, it is critical that we must not act in a way that will encourage them to believe they can break up the United ­Kingdom.

As I meet Scottish officials today, my ­message to them will be a clear one, that I and the department are 100 per cent committed to ensuring any future trade agreements, ­market access improvements and foreign investment are relentlessly focused on delivering economic prosperity for this nation, and the whole of the UK.

- Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade.