On Monday, the Prime Minister updated the House of Commons on the Government’s plans for leaving the European Union. As always, the PM has been absolutely clear that we will no longer be members of the EU’s single market or its customs union. In the referendum last June, we voted for control of our borders, our laws and our money, and that is what the PM and this Government are going to deliver.
As I said during the Leave campaign, our economic future is incredibly bright. We are the world’s 5th biggest economy, the 8th biggest manufacturer; we speak the world’s international business language; we have the best contract law and one of the most trusted judicial systems in the world. We have the most creative and innovative financial services sector anywhere; we have three of the top universities in the world and, for the sixth year in a row, the most powerful capital city on Earth.
In case you missed some of the good news in the last week, you might be interested to hear that business investment in the UK has grown 2.5 per cent in the year since the Brexit vote late June, after new figures from the independent Office for National Statistics revised its previous estimates that confidence had stagnated.
The FTSE 100 index closed at a record high, hitting 7,556.24 points after shares rallied on the markets fuelled by confidence in the economy. This beats the previous peak of 7,547.63 in late May, and continues the index’s strong run this year where it has risen for nine of the previous 12 trading sessions. In addition to London being named as the best major city in the world for attracting businesses and talent by two major international institutes – based on factors ranging from the economic output per person, cultural impact, research capabilities to the ease of commuting – recent forecasts from Oxford Economics show that our capital city is set to grow above the average for other European cities including Paris, Frankfurt and Berlin.
Some say that all of these advantages will evaporate once we leave the EU. I strongly believe this will not be the case; with our leading position in FinTech the City of London will remain a global financial hub. A report presented at the Institute of International Finance in Washington DC confirmed that our mature ecosystem of financial services will be very difficult to replicate elsewhere. And we heard more good news in the banking sector this week, this time from Handelsbanken. The Swedish banking giant say that they are fully committed to the UK for the very long term, seeing many opportunities to develop their business here after opening their 208th British branch in London’s Square Mile on Liverpool Street.
Our fantastic manufacturing sector, 8th largest in the world, continues to go from strength to strength. Following the excellent news that Nissan is increasing its production in Sunderland by a fifth, Honda has pledged its commitment to its manufacturing and sales activity in the UK. Honda’s factory in Swindon is its global hub for the new five-door Civic, with production surging 30 per cent in the year to March; the Japanese company has stated that the scale of its investment in the UK means the site is exporting cars globally and it is no longer solely reliant on the European market.
Mondelez International, the company behind Cadbury’s and other internationally recognised brands, has invested an additional £18m to set up its global research centre in the UK following a £75m modernisation and upgrade of its factory near Birmingham. Marks & Spencer has announced plans to invest up to £3m to revitalise Adria, formerly its biggest hosiery supplier and one of the UK’s manufacturing trailblazers, which closed its doors in 2006 after 45 years in Northern Ireland.
All of this is, as some would say, #DespiteBrexit! More than a year after the vote to the leave the EU, companies and investors know that the UK is fully open for business and that Brexit is going to be a huge opportunity for them to trade freely around the world.
And we are leaving by April 2019! We have made good progress in negotiating the details of our exit. Progress has been made on the Belfast Agreement, the Common Travel Area in Northern Ireland, and Citizens’ Rights, for instance we are close to securing agreement on issues related to residence, healthcare, social security and pensions.
We are proposing a unique and ambitious economic partnership based on our rules and regulation being the same at the start. This maintains our commitment to free trade and high standards while allowing for both the UK and the EU to make changes where we want to. We have also proposed a strictly time-limited implementation period following the negotiations.
This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back. We are going to make our own decisions and our own laws. We are going to take control of the things that matter most to us. And we are going to take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain!