Philip Hammond warns Europe the UK will "find ways" to compete without a trade deal

 
Mark Sands
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The Chancellor Of The Exchequer On The Eve Of His First Autumn Statement
The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June (Source: Getty)

Chancellor Philip Hammond reiterated his warnings that the UK will “find ways” to compete if it is unable to secure a “comprehensive trading relationship” after Brexit.

Hammond stressed that while the UK did not want to cut taxes to remain competitive, the decision was "not entirely in our gift".

“We have to remain competitive. The best way to do that is to have a comprehensive trading relationship with the European Union, our closest neighbours,” he said.

“But if we can't achieve that then we will have to find other ways to maintain our competitiveness, because our first obligation of government is to make sure that our people are able to maintain their standard of living.”

Read More: City eyes best possible access to Europe's Single Market

Both Hammond and Prime Minister Theresa May are in Davos to meet with business leaders, including top banks.

This week has seen Goldman Sachs, UBS and HSBC all hinting that jobs could move abroad in response to Brexit.

Hammond said today that the UK was still exploring ways for the financial services sector to access Europe's market.

Read More: Barclays boss: London will continue to be the "financial lungs" of Europe

“Obviously we can't be in the full customs union because the restriction that implies goes beyond the political imperatives from a UK point of view,” Hammond said.

“But we have a lot of reasons on both sides of this discussion to want to try and maintain the most frictionless border system possible,” he said, pointing to fresh produce imports every day, which neither side would want to disrupt.

And he said Britain would always be an attractive investment destination because of "the high level of confidence in our institutions".

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