21 July 2022

Rishi Sunak is best placed to unite our country with a new style of leadership

By John Glen MP

It is impossible to overestimate the impact of our financial services sector on the UK economy. It employs more than 2.2 million people – two thirds of whom work outside London – and it contributes over £75bn in tax, helping to fund our vital public services.

Our next leader and Prime Minister needs to be someone that understands the sector and is well-positioned to restore trust, rebuild the economy and reunite the country. For me, that person is Rishi Sunak.

Over the course of this leadership contest, we have heard a lot about Brexit. Rishi backed and believes in Brexit. The truth is that the opportunities arising from our decision to leave the European Union are vast – and I know that Rishi is completely dedicated to capitalising on those opportunities, in whichever sectors they present themselves.

One of the sectors that stands to benefit the most is the financial services sector, where we can and should strengthen our world-leading regulatory standards in a way that supports the UK’s position as a global financial centre.

In the Treasury, I worked closely with Rishi to oversee a huge programme of work to put in place a post-Brexit framework for financial services that will build on our status as global financial leaders and allow the sector to grow further. Rishi knows that we have an opportunity to both reset the system and do things differently and better! He is ambitious for the sector and we are determined to see London take the top spot in the global rankings from New York. As Prime Minister, I know that he will quickly ensure the passage of the Financial Services and Markets Bill so that we can bring that work to fruition.

As Chancellor, Rishi shared my desire to strive for an open, green, technologically advanced financial services sector that creates jobs and inspires growth across the whole country. We both agree that openness is key, and that we should use our new freedoms to promote international investment and increase the huge opportunities that exist for cross-border trade and cooperation.

We established the UK Infrastructure Bank, headquartered in Leeds, and through the Financial Services and Markets Bill we will reshape our legislative and regulatory regime – for insurance, capital markets and cryptocurrencies. In particular, it will reform Solvency II to enable a competitive insurance sector and reform the rules that regulate the UK’s capital markets, to promote investment.

People are sometimes apprehensive about change – and not just in the financial services sector. However, this is about harnessing the opportunities for innovative technologies in financial services. We are also introducing additional protections for those investing in or using financial products by strengthening the rules around financial promotions, and providing recourse for the victims of scams. It is all about enabling economic growth and regeneration, protecting the financial services sector and its consumers.

Rishi also supported work with financial inclusion – including the development of the No Interest Loan Scheme, reform of Credit Unions and the ‘Breathing Space’ scheme to help the vulnerable reset their finances when they get into persistent debt. Rishi gets into the detail and is relentless in his focus on delivering outcomes from the careful policy choices he makes.

Rishi has a proven track record of getting our country through an economic crisis. Through the furlough scheme, implemented within days of a major pandemic hitting, he prevented millions of people from losing their jobs and millions of businesses from going under. He is the reason that we have record unemployment today. He will tackle inflation, set the conditions for growth in our economy and cut taxes. He will use the newfound freedoms that Brexit has given us to unleash growth, making Britain the best place in the world to invest.

I believe Rishi Sunak is the most capable politician in Parliament, and that his ‘real world’ professional experience prior to politics means he is well-equipped with the analytical skills to grip the unprecedented challenges we face, to take tough decisions and lead us to better economic times. It was a privilege to work with him in HM Treasury for three years – I think he is best placed to unite the country with a new style of leadership for our country.

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John Glen is MP for Salisbury.

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.