George Osborne, chancellor, will on Monday tell Wall St investors that the UK will not retreat into a “Little Britain” mindset following last month’s Brexit vote, as he starts a tour to boost trade links with the rest of the world.
Mr Osborne will try to reassure investors and political leaders that the Brexit vote — partly fuelled by a fear of immigration among voters — would not signal a retreat from the world.
Later this month the chancellor will travel to Singapore and China, but the first leg of his mission in New York will see him seek to win US investment, even if President Barack Obama said Britain would be “at the back of the queue” for a new trade deal.
“There are those who want our exit from the EU to signal that we should now turn our back on the world, resist the free-market forces of globalisation and become a more insular, less tolerant place,” Mr Osborne wrote in the Wall St Journal.
“We must not be afraid to confront them head-on. I am determined that — on the contrary — we now set out to build a more outward-looking, global-facing Britain, with stronger links with its friends and allies around the world.”
However Mr Osborne, and the Tory leadership rivals Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom, acknowledge that more needs to be done to reassure British citizens that globalisation is working for them.
“One lesson of the referendum is that too many of our citizens feel economic progress is no longer benefiting them,” Mr Osborne wrote. “Ever-higher welfare to make good lost incomes is not the answer; attracting private investment and good jobs beyond our major cities is.”
“Post-referendum Britain can secure early wins by signing an investment deal on new civil nuclear power and going ahead with new airport runway capacity in London.”
He said that the North and Midlands — two of the regions that voted must heavily for Brexit — needed to be boosted through more devolution of power and the development of world class research and infrastructure.
The British Treasury says trading relationship between the UK and the US is a pivotal one: the US is the largest single destination for UK exports, and the UK is America’s largest trading partner in Europe. In 2014, UK exports to the US totalled £88bn (17 per cent of total UK exports) and last year, the UK was the US’s sixth largest trading partner.
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