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ALEX BRUMMER: the global reach of Great Britain Daily email online

ALEX BRUMMER: The British tradition of playing a role on the world stage is far from over (whatever Harry and Meghan think)

The Boris Johnson government has been criticized for merging the International Development Department with the State Department and for the lack of focus on global cooperation in the pandemic.

Rishi Sunak’s Plan for Jobs leaks criticism. Despite all the attention for our own misery, the UK has been mobilized with overseas aid.

Impressively, it has extended a £ 2.2 billion loan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help alleviate the suffering of the world’s poorest countries in their fight against Covid-19.

Leading the way: the UK provided a £ 2.2 billion loan to the International Monetary Fund to help fight the poverty eradication of the world's poorest countries in their fight against Covid-19

Leading the way: the UK provided a £ 2.2 billion loan to the International Monetary Fund to help fight the poverty eradication of the world’s poorest countries in their fight against Covid-19

It is recalled that the UK makes the largest per capita contribution to the World Bank loan concession.

Britain has also provided another £ 150 million to the IMF’s disaster relief fund and spent £ 313 million on global efforts to develop Covid-19 vaccines.

Clearly, global cooperation has not been most effective in the pandemic.

Within the EU, it was each country for itself and the tax incentive between the ‘thrifty four’ – Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden – and the less prosperous Mediterranean countries has been fought for.

The UK is at the forefront of vaccine competition. Astrazeneca and Oxford are on the right track for the first time and have set up production lines around the world that promise billions of cheap doses.

Likewise, GSK is working on different tracks and making similar humanitarian commitments.

For comparison, the extra £ 30 billion the UK spends on getting people back to work may seem like little beer.

But Britain’s long tradition of playing a role on the world stage and reaching the poorest countries in Africa is far from over, no matter what Harry and Meghan think.

Fashion victims

Fast fashion can quickly fall out of favor. Boohoo is in a very awkward position.

It has a brilliant online business model and collects brands such as Karen Millen.

It seems blissfully ignorant of the negative feedback loop in an era of ethical investing when supply chain issues are neglected.

How unfazed the best buyer has become, according to a tweet from Umar Kamani, founder of Pretty Little Thing.

This company was bought out by Boohoo six weeks ago in a curious inter-company transaction worth a potential £ 330 million.

He commented on events from Monaco and said, “Don’t believe everything you read.”

After days of waffles about fully complying with payment and terms rules, Boohoo finally decided to bring in an outsider to investigate the Leicester supply chain workshops.

The choice of Alison Levitt QC, a former public prosecutor adviser, should provide assurance that the probe will be thorough.

However, there is a long history in UK business of publicly traded firms using lawyers from the major countries as a shield against later official investigations.

By plowing the field first, they make it more difficult for any regulator to collect evidence or make statements.

It should be a matter of pride that Boohoo and others have discovered that there are choices in the UK to buy fashion and textiles as an alternative to Bangladesh and China.

But it’s daunting when domestic purchasing means unhealthy sweatshops in Leicester pay less than half the minimum wage.

Equally alarming is the fact that many of those exploited in Leicester are from the Asian minority community. In the era of Black Lives Matter, clearing out conditions looks much more positive than taking down images.

The super-rich founders of Boohoo, Mahmud Kamani and Carol Kane, must put an ethical wrapper around their fast fashion with the same enthusiasm as their recently created £ 150m bonus plans.

Failure to do so will result in the destruction of the group’s shares.

Special plea

The list of companies complaining that there is nothing for them in the Chancellor’s summer statement is as long as my arm.

Among those neglected are the UK’s leading events and exhibition industry, a window to UK creative services and a major source of income for catering establishments.

Among the beneficiaries of a relaxation of the rules would be FTSE 100 companies Relx and Informa, as well as many smaller outfits, including the Brighton exhibition group Imex, run by a family friend Ray Bloom.

Rishi: Watch out.

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