28 JULY 1990, Page 19

Off the record

TUT, tut, Ffangois, these Brits are nothing but a lot of round-eyed Japanese.

Quite so, Helmut, I can't think how we ever let them in.

Our predecessors . .

Quite so. They thought: we'll just use the butter mountain on old Ted, and make him sign up, and then Volkswagen and Renault can drive them into the Atlantic.

So they have.

So they did, until the Brits finally decided they were not much good at making cars and asked the Japanese to do it for them.

Green-field sites, cheap labour, a boss of the Welsh Development Board who speaks Japanese but not Welsh, all right inside the single market,• Nissan, Toyota. . . . What do you think about ICL?

Well, what is ICL, anyhow?

It's the flagship British computer company. It's been rescued a few times. Now it does a reasonable business in its home market. Siemens will get it in the end.

Fujitsu is getting it now.

Himmel! Of course, unlike the Brits, you and I have these unwritten rules to stop foreigners buying our prize com- panies. . . .

Instead, the round-eyed Japs will just drive us into the Mediterranean.

It's not communautaire, Francois.

It's not cricket.