The UK Chancellor George Osborne is jetting off to the United States today with the aim of convincing Wall Street's biggest hitters that they should continue to do business with the UK despite the Brexit result. In a statement before he went, the Chancellor said "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.” Adding, “pursuing a stronger relationship with our biggest trading partners is now a top priority. That’s why I am travelling to the US, China and Singapore in the coming weeks and why my message to the world is that Britain maybe leaving the EU, but we are not quitting the world. We will continue to be a beacon for free trade, democracy and security, more open to that world than ever.”
The trip comes after Osborne had a private meeting in London last week with five large US investment houses where it is reported they gave assurances that they would try to keep London as the top spot for international finance. However one banker at the meeting was later quoted as saying "no one in their right mind" would invest in the UK whilst the current situation is so uncertain.
However, despite the uncertainty, Barclays and HSBC have committed to retaining their headquarters in the UK. HBSC had already decided to stay after a review lasting nearly a year with Douglas Flint, Chairman, saying "We said at the time we made the decision that we’d taken that (Brexit) into consideration and that in the event of this outcome we would not call for that to be revisited."
As well as arguing the case for the financial houses to continue to use London for their headquarters, the UK government is also starting preliminary talks with major economies with regards to bilateral trade deals. Business Secretary, Sajid Javid is to launch talks with India, while Osborne met a Chinese government delegation last week. The meeting was said to have been “productive discussions on investment, financial services and fostering stronger trading ties”. This meeting precedes a 4 day trip to China for the Chancellor later this month, which will include a meeting of the G20 Finance ministers. Javid also plans visits to China, South Korea, Japan as well as the United States over the next few months.