Chancellor Philip Hammond is to make a pitch for the UK’s post-Brexit business credentials in Davos today, as he announces £100m investment for British innovation.
Hammond will tell business leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum: “Britain is a great place to do business. And we are determined, as we leave the EU, to make sure it remains that way.”
The chancellor, who last week said a no deal Brexit could be “taken off the table” on a conference call with 11 UK business leaders, will announce the investment which will create 1,000 new PhD places for developing artificial intelligence.
Leading the British delegation to the summit in place of Prime Minister Theresa May, Hammond will pledge the programme goes towards “research into life-saving technology to be used in NHS hospitals, and improve voice-recognition software for business and consumers”.
“The funding will also help cities to protect citizens from pollution hotspots through the development of early warning systems.”
But shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Hammond was repackaging a previous announcement.
“Given that we have been told that the funding comes from 2016 funding commitments, this sounds like nothing more than a repackaged announcement. You don't future-proof the economy by retrieving past policy announcements.”
“You don’t need a PhD to understand that a no deal would be catastrophic for the economy,” he said.
“Instead of swanning around amongst the rich in Davos, Philip Hammond should tell the Prime Minister to take no deal off the table.”
A HM Treasury spokesman said: “Today’s announcement is a new allocation of funding that follows the chancellor’s record increase to R&D investment – the biggest boost for 40 years.
“This is real money that will deliver real benefits to the British economy.
“From September, it will provide a decade’s worth of funding for British researchers to continue leading the way in AI.”
Hammond’s comments come days before a second vote in parliament on Theresa May’s plan B for Brexit.
Last week, May’s initial deal struck with the EU was voted down in historic numbers my MPs, by 432 to 202 votes.