Tomorrow the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver the Mansion House speech, an annual milestone in the calendar of bankers, brokers, financiers and fiscal hawks in which the Chancellor’s vision for our financial services sector is outlined in a room with the UK’s most senior business leaders.
Only two weeks ago I was working with Treasury officials to put the final touches on the measures that would feature in that speech. As Economic Secretary and City Minister, it was my responsibility, in lockstep with Rishi Sunak, to navigate our country through the post-Brexit regulatory landscape to sunnier uplands, delivering on the benefits that Brexit afforded us, whilst maintaining the high standards that make our financial hub the greatest in the world.
It was an honour and a privilege to represent and champion our country’s financial and professional services during the four and half years I was in office. The sectors account for 12 per cent of total UK economic output – it was therefore with regret that I left the post, especially when we were on the cusp of even greater change.
But we can still deliver on that change. Because now, looking at the direction of our economy from the outside in, it’s clear to me that the man who must seize the opportunities of Brexit, and grow our economy, is Rishi Sunak.
Having worked alongside Rishi within his Treasury team, I know that he has an unrivalled grasp of policy and is one of the most capable leaders I have ever met. He is also, crucially, a principled politician, who supported Brexit after careful thought from the start. It is because of these credentials that only Rishi is the candidate with the skill, experience and determination to abolish the retained EU financial law holding us back, and finish the job of ending the EU system where power lies with faceless regulators.
Take Solvency II. Had we not left the EU, we would not be able to tailor the prudential regulation of insurers to our unique circumstances. But now, we have a genuine opportunity to maintain and grow an innovative and vibrant insurance sector, while protecting policyholders and ensuring the safety and soundness of firms. Rishi has championed this reform for years, and thanks to his work as Chancellor, when complete, this reform could result in unlocking tens of billions of pounds for infrastructure investment – a vital Brexit dividend.
But now the future of that reform is uncertain, with the sector, Government and regulator in disagreement over how to implement it. As Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak would have the know-how to finish the job, helping to trigger Big Bang 2.0 and restore London as the world’s leading financial centre.
But that is the mark of the man, he will do what he thinks is right and follow his convictions. He is intelligent but not arrogant; professional but not overbearing; thoughtful but decisive. I am confident that he is the man to deliver for the City and every city in our United Kingdom.
I hope my colleagues will give Rishi their support, so his professionalism, patriotism and deep understanding of what our economy and the City needs at this time of grave inflationary pressure can be used to full impact as our next Prime Minister.