LONDON — The U.K.’s new long-term economic plan is “necessitated, energized and made possible” by post-Brexit freedoms, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said Friday.
Hunt said he rejected the “gloom” about the U.K.’s economic prospects and declared that “declinism about Britain is just wrong” during a speech at Bloomberg’s London headquarters.
The chancellor also rejected calls from some Tory MPs for tax cuts in the upcoming Budget, telling them that “the best tax cut right now is a cut in inflation.”
Rishi Sunak’s government has been criticized by business groups, including the influential Confederation for British Industry (CBI), for having no clear strategy to grow the British economy.
The prime minister’s first two months in the job were instead consumed by fiscal consolidation after his predecessor Liz Truss’ short-lived premiership wreaked havoc on financial markets.
Britain’s 10.5 percent annual inflation rate is the second-highest in the G7, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicts that British GDP growth will be the second-lowest of any G20 country this year, with only Russia trailing behind.
Hunt on Friday said Britain’s future economic prosperity lay in growth industries such as fintech, medtech and green energy.
The chancellor said the U.K.’s newfound regulatory freedoms would be the “catalyst” for his plan and that he wants to “take advantage of the nimbleness and flexibility” made possible by Brexit.
“Solvency II reforms, which are only possible because of regulatory possibilities not available inside the EU, will unlock potentially £100 billion of investment into the industries represented by people in this room,” he said.
“In the end, Brexit is a choice, it’s an opportunity and we can make it an incredible success, and I believe we will.”
In a details-light speech, Hunt said he would grow the economy by diverging from EU regulations, improving adult education and recruiting economically inactive Brits back into work.
Labour Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said in response: “The Tories have no plan for now, and no plan for the future.”