NEW YORK: British Finance Minister George Osborne visited the US financial capital of New York on Monday, trying to reassure investors worried about Britain’s vote last month to exit the European Union.
“We might be quitting the EU but we’re certainly not leaving global free markets, free trade,” Osborne said in an interview with MSBNC television before beginning a series of meetings with Wall Street investors.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who campaigned for Britain to remain in the 28-nation bloc, began a world tour to tout the benefits of a post-Brexit Britain.
“One of the messages we’ve got to send the world is we’re not turning in on ourselves as a country,” Osborne said.
He pointed to Britain’s desire to seal free-trade pacts with the United States and in Asia. Next week he is scheduled to lead a trade mission to Singapore and China.
Osborne has been attempting to tamp down concerns raised by the unexpected Brexit vote on June 23 that shook financial markets and raised doubts that the City of London could retain its status as a top financial center.
“While Britain’s decision to leave the EU clearly presents economic challenges, we now have to do everything we can to make the UK the most attractive place in the world to do business,” Osborne said in a statement released by the Treasury.
Osborne reaffirmed to MSNBC his controversial plan to slash Britain’s corporate tax over fears of an exodus by big business. He wants to lower the rate from about 20 percent to less than 15 percent, compared to 17 percent previously proposed.
The government “wants to cut business taxes still further to make the UK the place to go to do business and help British firms grow,” he said.
In an opinion article published in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, Osborne insisted that London intended to remain a major player in global finance.
“The UK is a leading financial center serving not just the continent of Europe, but the entire world. We have been following a clear plan to make ourselves a global hub for the renminbi, rupee, Islamic finance, green finance and fintech business,” he wrote.
“As I will tell Wall Street, we want more finance in London, not less.”